MLCs levy ceiling proposals assessed by new committee
By Shelley Wright
ATTEMPTS by the Meat and Livestock Commission to increase levy ceilings were discussed in parliament this week by a newly formed committee charged with assessing the proposal.
Although the MLC is seeking to raise the ceilings for both general and promotional levies on cattle and the general levy for sheep, officials have stressed that there are no plans to increase the actual levies paid by farmers for at least the next year.
"We have no intention of increasing the charges for 1999 but we need to adjust the ceilings to take account of possible future needs," a spokesman said. The ceilings put a cap on the levy rates the MLC can charge. Any changes must be approved by parliament.
Meanwhile, MLC staff have embarked on a three-month tour of Britain to offer advice to farmers on surviving the livestock industry crisis and to outline the work being done by the commission to ease the problems.
Colin Maclean, MLC director general, said: "It is vital at this time that farmers understand what we are doing and how they can survive the present problems."
The commission has also announced that its marketing director, Gwyn Howells, will take over as director general from April when Mr Maclean retires. Mr Howells joined MLC in 1992, having previously been marketing director of Reebok UK and director of brand and trade marketing for Courage.
Don Curry, MLC chairman, said: "As marketing director, Gwyn Howells has masterminded the high-profile positioning of British beef, pork and lamb and has spearheaded the recovery of British beef in particular from one of the biggest crises ever to hit any industry."
Mr Howells said he was extremely honoured to be appointed director general at such a crucial time for the industry. "MLC levy payers can be assured that the MLC will continue to be unstinting in its efforts to promote sales of British meat, to support and advise the livestock and meat sectors, and to ensure that the industry is in the best possible shape to tackle the challenges of the next century," he said. *
Current ceiling (p) Current levy (p) Proposed ceiling (p)
Cattle general 219 205 350
Promotional 280 230 350
Calves general 14 14 100
Promotional – – –
Sheep general 39 31 40
Promotional 40 32 40
Pigs general 55 40 55
Promotional 80 60 80