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Commission authorises aid for Scottish scheme to promote red meat

by 5m Editor
21 January 2004, at 12:00am

EU - The European Commission has today authorised the United Kingdom to pay aid worth a total of € 21.7 million per year to QMS (Quality Meat Scotland) for advertising quality red meat and red meat products. The scheme is financed by a parafiscal levy. The duration of the aid scheme is five years. The scheme is part of a number of state aid approvals in favour of the Scottish red meat sector.

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The aid scheme in question is financed by a parafiscal levy that also has to be paid by products exported from the UK. However, the levy will not be charged if no promotional activity is undertaken for the benefit of the exporter.

The scheme provides aid for advertising of recognized protected geographic indications (PGIs) and quality products. The conditions for determining quality products are defined in the decision. The UK authorities have given assurances that quality schemes have to comply with the conditions of Article 24b para. 3 of the Rural Development Regulation(1). These conditions are:

  • The specificity of the final product shall be derived from detailed obligations on farming methods that guarantee:
    1. specific characteristics including the production process, or
    2. a quality of the final product that goes significantly beyond the commercial commodity standards as regards public, animal or plant health, animal welfare or environmental protection;
  • the quality schemes involve binding product specifications and compliance with those specifications shall be verified by an independent inspection body;
  • the schemes shall be open to all producers;
  • the schemes shall be transparent and assure complete traceability of the products;
  • the schemes shall respond to current or foreseeable market opportunities.

Products that meet the conditions for the quality assurance scheme can use the "Specially Select" logo developed by QMS. This logo is open to products from all Member States. The colour and the icon may vary according to the national origin.

This decision is part of a set of aid schemes for the support of the red meat sector organised and managed by QMS: Meat Industry Development (Scotland) Scheme (N 70/03) and Generic Meat Advertising (N 231/03) that have been already approved by the Commission.

Altogether, about €68 million will be spent in the period of 5 years: €43 million for advertising of generic agricultural products and quality agricultural products and €25 million for technical support, improving the genetic quality of livestock, investments in agricultural holdings, investments for processing and marketing of quality red meat and red meat products, encouraging the production and marketing of quality products, introduction of quality assurance and other quality control systems, setting-up of producer groups and encouraging young farmers.

In the United Kingdom (UK), The Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) has been subject to decentralisation. In Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has been founded to take over these activities. QMS is a private, non-profit making organisation owned by the Meat and Livestock Commission and organisations representing farmers and meat processing companies in Scotland but with delegated responsibility for a range of statutory functions relating to the development of the red meat industry in Scotland. QMS is controlled by the UK authorities.

(1) Regulation (EC) No 1783/2003 of 29 September 2003 amending Regulation (EC) No 1257/1999 on support for rural development from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund OJ L 270, 21.10.2003, p. 70.

Source: European Commission - 21st January 2004

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