The industry has broadly welcomed Rosemary Radcliffe’s call to restructure the agricultural and horticultural levy system, although some uncertainty remained about the final form.
Former PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Radcliffe, who reviewed the meat, cereals and horticulture levy bodies for the government, has proposed a radical overhaul. This would sweep away the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC), which provides marketing and research services to the English Beef and Lamb Executive, the British Pig Executive, Quality Meat Scotland and Hybu Cig Cymru and create a secretariat of government-appointed commissioners responsible for raising levies. Collection would be outsourced, perhaps to the MLC.
Radcliffe hinted that the MLC’s Milton Keynes headquarters would make a good base for a new service body for existing levy organisations. But the MLC said that the timetable was tight, with consultation until February and implementation by March 2007.
However, the Milk Development Council said the new structure would increase costs by creating extra bureaucracy. Sector-specific focus could also be lost by MLC’s research being subsumed in the new body.