By Debbie James

Wales’ red meat promotion body has defended levies paid by processors and farmers on dairy cull cattle following criticism by a Carmarthenshire abattoir owner.

John O’Farrell, of Cig Calon Cymru, Cross Hands, reckons there should be different rates for prime beef cattle and dairy cull cattle.

Cow beef is mostly used in manufacturing, for products such as burgers, mince products and pizza toppings, and Mr O’Farrell believes that Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) doesn’t do enough to promote these.

Farmers and abattoirs pay the same levy rate on all classes of cattle – £4.34/head by the producer and £1.33/head by the slaughterhouse – and the money is used by HCC to develop, promote and market Welsh red meat.

Mr O’Farrell had withheld paying the levy in protest from June to December 2018 but has now made that payment.

He argues says he isn’t getting value for money from the levy compared to abattoirs that process prime beef.

“I don’t think there should be one rate for all classes of cattle,’’ he said.

“We don’t get invited to promote cow beef at some of the exhibitions and events that HCC uses our levy money to attend so shouldn’t we pay a lesser levy to reflect that?’’

HCC points out that 72 per cent of the levy is spent promoting Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Welsh brands, which it insists benefits the whole cattle-rearing industry.

Over 50 per cent of beef originates from the dairy industry, it said.

“It must be borne in mind that cull dairy cows will have produced calves that entered the supply chain as prime beef,’’ said a HCC spokesperson.