An agreement by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Hybu Cig Cymru, (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) will see a range of activity delivered via a three-way collaboration starting in 2018.
The agreement follows 12 months of talks between the three bodies after the parameters of the fund were set out by government ministers early in 2017 and sees the AHDB setting aside a ring-fenced sum of £2m to support the programme of activities benefiting cattle, sheep and pig levy payers in Scotland, Wales and England.
The levy bodies have agreed that, effective from the financial year 2018/19, the new joint fund will focus on international shows and export events; market access; Brexit preparation; meat and health, animal health and the environment; and research.
Meat boards tackles environmental sting together
The ring-fenced fund is expected to boost the international presence and access for meat from Britain in key overseas markets, with a 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.
Jane King, chief executive of AHDB, said: “The three GB levy bodies share many challenges and the simple fact is we can more effectively address them through working together.
“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.”
Maximise value for levy payers
Gwyn Howells, chief executive of HCC, said: “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, added: “It is encouraging that progress has been made and that recognition has been given to the movement of livestock around GB and the impact this has on each of the levy bodies.
“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.”