A long-standing row over around who should benefit from around £1 million of red meat levy paid by Scottish farmers is expected to be resolved within weeks.
The campaign to ‘repatriate’ levies currently paid to English promotional bodies when Scottish livestock are slaughtered south of the border has gone on for years but could finally be about to yield results.
The levies relate mainly to Scottish pigs and sheep which are slaughtered in England, and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), which is currently losing out on the funding, believes the situation will be settled before the Royal Highland Show in June.
According to QMS chairman Jim McLaren: “There is progress and by the Highland Show we’ll be able to say what it is.”
Mr McLaren explained that it would not be as simple as directly transferring levies collected.
He added: “Handing over a cheque would require legislative change which isn’t going to happen quickly so that would be a long term aspiration. But in the meantime we need to find other resolutions.”
The funds would make a difference to QMS income. The forecast for the promotional body’s levy income for the year ahead is £3.95 million, which is the same as for the year just ended.
The organisation also relies on EU grants. Last year grant income was £890,000 and the current forecast for the year ahead is £407,000, although retiring chief executive Uel Morton said his team was working hard to bring in more grants and was working on applications.
QMS’s budgeted external spend for the 2017/18 year is £4.66 million, down on its external spend of £5.02 million for 16/17.
Mr Morton added the organisation’s priority remained marketing the Scotch beef, Scotch lamb and specially selected pork brands.
A replacement for the new chief executive is expected to be announced by the end of this week.