17 September 1999
Government tells MLC to open up
By Isabel Davies
THE Meat and Livestock Commission is doing a good job but could be more open with its levy payers, according to the government.
A government review of the MLC concluded that the organisation is doing “a useful job”, but could improve its effectiveness by making some changes.
One problem highlighted was the belief of some that MLC is too distant from producers and slaughterers and too close to retailers and government.
Government consultation with industry had also revealed widespread concern that the MLC did not understand producers problems and the variety of production systems.
Scottish producers are continuing to campaign for all their levy money to remain in Scotland.
But the government suggests the Scottish Forum and Welsh Council, established in response to devolution, should be allowed to develop before further decisions are made.
Instead, it suggests that a review should be carried out in two to three years to see whether they have met the needs of the Scottish and Welsh livestock industries.
According to the MLC, it is currently working to establish a permanent body, which is still part of the MLC, to replace the temporary Scottish Forum.
It claims the new body would give the Scottish industry more say over how levies collected from Scottish producers are spent.
The government also suggests looking at the possibility of introducing an enhanced single levy for each species rather than the present general levy and promotional levy.
And it recommends that, ultimately, promotional councils should be phased out and strategy councils should be given more say over how money is spent.
An MLC spokesman acknowledged that there had been criticisms but said that many of the issues highlighted in the report were now being addressed.
The pig industry had been particularly critical but the organisation had done much to respond to their needs.
The commission was keen to improve its communication with levy payers and recent levy-payer meetings had proved very successful, he said.