Scottish Rural Economy Secretary “utterly determined” to maximise markets

The Scottish government aims at downgrading its BSE risk status, following calls from the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) for the country to assume ‘negligible risk’ status.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said the government would consult on plans to apply for the change. The secretary also claimed to be motivated to increase markets and incomes for Scotland’s food and drink producers.

“I am utterly determined to maximise market opportunities at home and abroad for producers of Scotland’s premium food and drink,” said Ewing at the Royal Highland Show.

“Achieving BSE negligible risk status could help open up markets across the world for these premium products, and potentially reduce waste and inefficiencies in the supply chain worth more than a million pounds.

“The USA is already on the cusp of resuming beef imports from the UK while the Canadian market is now open for both beef and lamb. The opportunities for exports and producer incomes are potentially massive and it is imperative that Scotland is ahead of the game in promoting our iconic red meat brands.”

Ewing revealed that efforts to promote Scottish red meat both locally and internationally could be transformed if a fairer share of the red meat levy system could be secured from Westminster. This would allow Quality Meat Scotland to invest £1.5 million more per year into the sector.

“That’s why I’m calling on the UK government to urgently bring forward legislation to give Scotland a fairer share of the levy, in line with the recommendations Defra received back in December 2015, and I have written to the Defra Farming Minister this week on this very point.

“If Scotland were to successfully apply for and be upgraded to BSE Negligible Risk status, we could be the first region in the world to do so. I am keen to understand the full implications of this status for industry which is why the Scottish Government will formally consult on our proposals later this summer.”

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