Changes to the distribution of red meat levy across England, Wales and Scotland to reflect the country of production rather than slaughter have been strongly welcomed by industry.
Anticipated to be in place by April 1, 2021, the scheme will replace the collaborative ring-fenced fund and return more than £1 million of levy collected in English abattoirs to Wales and Scotland.
It follows the passing of the Agriculture Bill, which has paved the way for levy payments to be made from one country to another to address livestock movements across national borders.
Having direct control over home-generated levies for domestic marketing campaigns, industry development and export activities have been a long-running objective for all three levy boards AHDB, Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
AHDB chief strategy officer, Will Jackson, said: “We are gratified this enactment lays the groundwork for changes to levy distribution, for the benefit of our levy payers in England, Scotland and Wales.
“Parliament has recognised the cross-border nature of our red meat supply chains and the need to reform the levy distribution mechanism to recognise where producers have economic value.”
Gwyn Howells, HCC chief executive, added the scheme will give greater accountability to Welsh levy payers on how the money is spent.
“A modernised levy system, which more accurately reflects where livestock are reared in the various nations of the UK and takes account of changes in the structure of the processing industry, has been a long-cherished aim of the farming industry in Wales and successive Welsh ministers,” he said.
But Alan Clarke, chief executive officer of QMS, highlighted while differing landscapes, markets and production systems necessitated direct control of domestic levy payments, QMS would remain committed to working with industry on ‘strategic priorities’ and addressing future trading and climate change challenges.
The scheme will need the approval from Ministers in all three countries.