5 December 2000
MLC wants 17% increase in levies

by FWi staff

LIVESTOCK farmers will have to pay up to 17% more in promotional levies under proposals outlined by the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Cattle levies will rise by 50p for each animal slaughtered if commissioners adopt plans put forward for industry consultation on Tuesday (5 December).

Promotional levies paid entirely by farmers on each finished beef animal would be increased from 230p to 270p equivalent to a 17% rise.

A general levy, paid on each animal and split 50:50 between abattoirs and farmers, would rise from 205p to 215p. That equals a rise of less than 5%.

Promotional levies for sheep, again paid for entirely by farmers, would increase from 32p to 36p per animal, equivalent to an increase of 12.5%.

The general sheep levy, again split 50:50 between producers and abattoirs, would be upped 31p to 33p per animal, equivalent to a rise of almost 6.5%.

The increase which would come into effect next April, would boost the commissions funds by around 2.6 million, said director general Gwyn Howells.

“Slaughterings are down, our reserves have been depleted, external funding is becoming tighter and media costs have risen sharply,” he said.

The MLC cattle and sheep strategy councils have now decided that the only way to deliver their strategies is to raise the levies for the first time since 1996.

The Beef and Lamb Promotion Council said extra money was needed to maintain the momentum generated by the commissions advertising campaigns.

Recent television advertisements starring the comedian Harry Enfield as Tim Nice-But-Dim have boosted sales of ready-cooked meals based on meat.

But David Croston, head of the sheep strategy council, admitted that it would not be easy to sell the levy increases to farmers at a time when incomes are falling.

Mr Croston said the MLCs sheep strategy council wanted to expand research into issues such as breeding techniques and BSE-like diseases in sheep.

There are no plans to raise the levy on pigs, although the industry is consulting on a 20p a pig levy a scheme which would help producers hit by swine fever.