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Minister Shows Commitment to NI Poultry Industry

by 5m Editor
3 September 2009, at 6:22am

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Minister Michelle Gildernew, MP MLA has said that she will be meeting with representatives from the local poultry sector to discuss the challenges facing the industry.

According to Fermanagh Herald, it is estimated that the poultry industry generates over £400 million in revenue each year and provides work for around 4,500 employees.

Discussing her plans, the Minister said: "The poultry sector makes an important contribution to the local rural economy and I am aware that they, like other parts of agriculture, are facing a number of difficulties at this time. My Department has already invested £3.1 million in the poultry sector, through programmes such as the Marketing and Processing Grants scheme.

"The Farm Nutrient Management Scheme has also assisted poultry farmers by providing funding to help them comply with the Nitrates Directive."

Discussing the new EU welfare regulations for laying hens, the Minister said: "The EU ban on conventional cages for laying hens and the move to enriched cages, which was announced in 1999 (Council Directive 99/74/EC), and transposed into domestic legislation in 2003, comes into force in 2012," she explained.

"My Department have been working with the industry since 2005 to ensure they are fully aware of the need to convert to alternative production systems and to prepare for that change. Around 60 per cent of egg producers here have already invested in alternative production systems, i.e. enriched, barn or free range, in order to comply with EU law."

The Minister added: "I am also aware that the South [Ireland] has announced funding proposals to assist poultry producers to convert to alternative systems.

"This funding is part of a package arising from the CAP Health Check agreement, which included additional funding for the South through increased compulsory modulation rates. However, similar funding is not available to the North or to Britain.

"In light of the challenges the poultry industry currently face, I hope to meet representatives from the sector to discuss their concerns," Ms Gildernew told Fermanagh Herald.