30 June 2000

Talks on raising MLC levies all set to start

This years Royal Highland Show had 144,836 visitors, about

2000 up on 1999s event – a good result for an industry

still in crisis said show organisers. Shelley Wright reports

DISCUSSIONS will begin shortly on whether or not to raise Meat and Livestock Commission levies next year.

At last weeks Royal Highland Show, MLC chairman Don Curry said levies had been frozen for the past four years in recognition of the financial difficulties livestock farmers faced.

"The beef and lamb strategy councils and the British Pig Executive will look at the programmes of activities they want to undertake next year and decide what funding is needed," he said.

The strategy councils and BPEX would then submit their plans, and recommended levy rates, to the MLC board for discussion. "But were still some way from any decisions yet," Mr Curry said.

Discussions on levies would also be held with Quality Meat Scotland, the new meat promotion body, he added.

The Highland Show was the first public outing for QMS, which combines the promotion and quality assurance work of The Scotch Quality Beef and Lamb Association, the Scottish Pig Industry Initiative and the MLCs activities in Scotland.

There have long been rumblings in Scotland that all £5m in levy money collected from Scottish producers should stay north of the border, instead of the £1.7m being handed to QMS by MLC.

But both Mr Curry and Neil Kilpatrick, QMS chairman, used the show to stress the benefits to Scotlands farmers of retaining links with MLC. &#42

Honour for Scottish beef exporter

Ian Galloway, the man who first began exporting Scotch beef to the Continent more than 30 years ago, and who was also the first to restart exports after the BSE crisis, has been honoured by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

Rural affairs minister Ross Finnie presented Mr Galloway, whose company Scotbeef is one of only two in Britain currently licensed to export beef, with the RHASS lifetime achievement award at a dinner on the eve of the Highland Show.