Scotland and Wales may finally be able to put an end to a long-standing battle over the repatriation of levies collected in England for animals reared in the devolved nations.
A solution to the thorny repatriation problem could be in sight as a result of a new Defra consultation on the future of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
As part of the wide-ranging consultation, which could bring about the most radical shake-up AHDB has seen in its decade-long history, the UK Government has asked for views on the point in the supply chain at which the levy should be collected.
Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has estimated the Scottish red meat industry loses about £1.5 million a year because levies are collected at the point of slaughter in England.
QMS’ Welsh counterpart Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) also misses out on more than £1 million a year as a result of the practice, which both bodies have repeatedly demanded come to an end.
NFU Scotland livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam said: “NFU Scotland has consistently made the case that levy collected on Scottish-reared stock processed in England and Wales should be returned to the Scottish industry.
“There will clearly be priority areas where Scotland would like to see more being spent and repatriating Scottish levy back to QMS would allow the Scottish industry to invest more in its future.
“This consultation is an opportunity to once again make this important point. I would urge members to respond and to feed in their views to NFU Scotland.”
Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary, Andrew RT Davies, also encouraged farmers in Wales to respond ‘en masse’ to the consultation to claw back the cash.
He said: “Historically, Welsh farming has been placed at a huge disadvantage because of the restricting of the slaughterhouse industry over the past few decades, with many farmers forced to use facilities across the border with vital funding ending up in England.
“With dues currently paid where an animal is slaughtered and not reared, it is important the imbalance in monies is now redressed.”
Jane King, chief executive of AHDB, has ‘welcomed the opportunity to gain feedback from farmers and growers’.