Levy increase ‘vital to secure Scotland’s livestock sector’

Scotland’s livestock industry will not move forward without proper funding and marketing from promotion body Quality Meat Scotland, a leading industry body has warned.

The National Beef Association said the long-term future of the country’s £550m/year beef industry could only be secured if it was backed by a central, well-funded organisation.

The warning came as the NBA criticised the “short-term thinking” of industry groups who have attacked QMS proposals to increase slaughter cattle levy rates by 20%.

NBA Scotland chairman Iain Mathers said, without an increase to its £3.8m levy income, QMS would be forced to cut back on the work it did in promoting the country’s meat industry.

QMS had already been forced to cut it spending on marketing by £300,000 last year and had warned of further cuts unless levies were raised.

“It is naïve to think that a business as important as beef is to Scotland can move forward without giving what is needed to properly fund QMS,” Mr Mathers said.

“Professionally-run industries, with multi-million pound turnovers, should not quibble when asked to provide an additional 93p which is the equivalent of 0.5% of the value of a typical Scottish slaughter beast.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Beef Cattle Association and the National Sheep Association’s Scottish committee said they would call for an independent evaluation of the running of QMS unless it increased the share of income it devoted to its marketing efforts.

John Bell, SBCA chairman, said: “We believe there are opportunities for QMS to refocus some of its work.

“There is significant opinion that marketing activity needs to be enhanced and investment levels increased to ensure a strong demand for Scotch beef in the most profitable markets.”

Dissatisfaction with the efforts of QMS were echoed by NSA Scotland’s development officer George Milne.

He said his committee would support the increase in sheep levy, but only if any increase achieved from sheep production was ring-fenced and fed directly back to marketing sheep meat.

“There seems to be plenty of opportunity to increase lamb consumption so let’s get on and really sell the product,” Mr Milne added.