Levy reform call from Welsh AM

A Welsh Assembly Member has urged fairer funding between England, Scotland and Wales. 

Speaking at a Senedd briefing, Huw Irranca-Davies AM warned that the potential impact of Brexit on the Welsh red meat industry meant that a reform of the levy scheme was “more urgent than ever”.

Referring to the Red Meat Levy, under which farmers and processors pay a contribution on every animal towards promotion, marketing and development work by Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC). However, because of the structure of the slaughterhouse industry, many Welsh farmers were using facilities across the border and so vital funding ended up in England. The English, Welsh and Scottish levy bodies are agreed on proposals for reform but steps have not yet been taken to implement them.

“The slaughter industry’s restructuring over decades to the disadvantage of that Welsh red meat levy means that you have a lot less funds available to do the essential marketing and promotion work for this industry,” said Huw Irranca. “There have been signals from the UK Government that they are willing to engage with us and other devolved administrations and bring forward proposals that would have a fairer settlement.

“It sounds like there is a will up there to do it – but we have to bolt that down. There may be some role for this place in actually pushing harder with all of our political parties in saying ‘we need a fairer deal’.

Dai Davies, HCC chairman, welcomed the support. “I would like to thank Huw Irranca-Davies AM for sponsoring this important briefing event in the Senedd. He spoke very eloquently about the importance of the food industry to Wales’s economy, and about the challenges we face – maintaining access to EU export markets and the PGI status of our products as we head towards Brexit, and ensuring that Wales receives its fair share of the red meat levy.”

Davies said that more than 90% of the Welsh red meat export trade relied on the EU, stressing the need for a Brexit with “free and unfettered trade access”.

He also called for a resolution to the uncertainty over the EU’s “highly-prized” Protected Geographical Indication status that Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef enjoyed.

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