Food levy powers Richard Lochhead met with his UK counterpart Liz Truss this week to discuss a range of issues.
Mr Lochhead pressed for more powers for the Scottish Government, in particular citing the importance of the Scottish Government being in charge of food levies in Scotland, and highlighted the need to up the pace of change particularly on the red meat levies.
Mr Lochhead also encouraged Ms Truss to consider the potential for a deposit return scheme across the UK to tackle litter, as well as raising other key priorities including simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy and fishing quotas.
Speaking after the meeting he said: “Now that the Scotland Bill has been published, the debate about the range of additional powers the Scottish Government should receive has stepped up a gear. What’s clear is that the proposals from the UK Government fall far short of what is required to promote the Scottish brand, to create jobs and boost our economy and I have made this point to Liz Truss in our meeting.
“One example in my own portfolio where I am keen to ensure we can do more is on food levies. Devolving food levies is a no brainer. The current arrangements are disjointed and need to change to stop levies leaking south of the border and instead promote Scotland's booming food and drink industry.
Full devolution of food levies would also prevent the anomalies that exist in current arrangements. "I also took the opportunity to raise the one levy which is under negotiation, the red meat levy, and stressed the importance of moving this on at a faster pace that has been in the past.
"This will allow money previously taken from Scottish farmers, to be used to market our livestock, instead of being used to promote meat from elsewhere on these islands. We should have the ability to determine how levies should operate in respect of Scottish farming, fishing and related business. This would provide the necessary flexibility for Scotland to put in place arrangements that benefit all of Scotland.
“I have also raised a number of other priorities including the potential for a UK wide deposit return scheme to help tackle litter and promised to send a copy of the Zero Waste Scotland report to Ms Truss. We discussed issues where we need the strongest possible representation in Europe such as CAP simplification and fish quotas. I stressed how important the fishing industry is to Scotland and the need to protect our fishing quotas for generations to come."