Levy bodies agree on £2 million joint red meat programme
The red meat levy bodies in England, Scotland and Wales have announced a major programme of joint activities to support the sectors through a £2 million ring-fenced fund of AHDB red meat levies.
The agreement by the AHDB, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) follows 12 months of talks between the bodies and will see a range of activity delivered in a three-way collaboration, starting in 2018.
The parameters of the fund were set out by Ministers early in 2017, with the programme having been developed as an interim arrangement while a long-term solution is sought on the issue of levies being collected at point of slaughter in England for animals which have been reared in Scotland or Wales.
According to the agreement, AHDB would set aside a ring-fenced sum of £2 million to support a programme of activities benefitting cattle, sheep and pig levy payers in Scotland, Wales and England.
The three organisations share an immediate joint commitment to collaborating to ensure levy payers across Great Britain benefit from the activities delivered using the £2 million ring-fenced fund.
Jane King, chief executive of AHDB, commented: “Though we already work closely with our colleagues in HCC and QMS on various projects, this new arrangement will take our collaboration to a whole new level with all three organisations deciding jointly how we will invest this fund to make the biggest impact for the red meat sectors.”
The levy bodies have agreed that effective from the financial year 2018/19 the new joint fund will focus on five priority areas, including international shows and export events, market access, Brexit preparation, meat and health, animal health and environment and research.
The ring-fenced fund is expected to boost the international presence and access for meat from Britain in key overseas markets, with particular focus on preparing the red meat sector for the potential challenges and opportunities that are likely to follow Brexit.
In the meat and health, animal health and environment category the three organisations will concentrate on collaborating on positive messaging to counteract negative messages, while work on antimicrobial resistance is expected to dominate the research investment.
Gwyn Howells, chief executive of HCC, added: “Addressing the issue of the loss of levy income to the Welsh red meat industry has been long awaited. While a permanent solution will require legislation, this interim arrangement will allow greater value for money and accountability for Welsh levy-payers.
“We look forward to working together with our colleagues in Scotland and England on important programmes of joint activity in areas such as overseas market access, research, and communicating the health benefits of red meat within a balanced diet.”
Alan Clarke, chief executive of QMS, said: “The priority now is to ensure we maximise the benefit to levy payers of the activities delivered from the ring-fenced fund. This collaboration gives us the opportunity to take a joined-up approach to issues that affect the industry, regardless of geography.”