6 December 2000
Farmers demand ring-fenced levy

By Alistair Driver

FARMERS have called for further reassurance before agreeing to Meat and Livestock Commission proposals to increase the levies paid on livestock.

Beef producers said they would accept a proposed 17% rise in the beef promotional levy only if the money was used to promote British meat.

National Beef Association chief executive Robert Forster said he believed the industry could benefit from pumping more funds into beef promotions.

But he added: “It must be used to specifically promote British beef, rather than beef as a whole.”

Recent government figures show beef consumption is rising.

But prices are falling, said Mr Forster because extra demand is often met by imports.

The MLC wants to increase its promotional levy on each beef animal from 230p to 270p.

A general levy paid on each animal would rise from 205p to 215p.

NFU livestock adviser Kevin Pearce said: “The MLC will need to be clear and concise as to what it has done so far and why they need to increase levies.”

MLC plans would also increase the promotional levy for sheep from 32p to 36p per animal.

A general sheep levy would be upped 31p to 33p per animal.

A spokeswoman for the National Sheep Association said farmers might be alarmed at the prospect of having to spend more money.

But she added: “The MLC has a job to and, if they do not have enough to promote the product, they cannot do their it properly.”