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MEP Warns that EC Unprepared for Battery Cage Ban

by 5m Editor
1 September 2010, at 11:05pm

UK - At a meeting of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on Monday (30 August), UK Independence Party's agriculture spokesman and Norfolk egg farmer, Stuart Agnew MEP, clashed with a European Commission representative over the battery cage ban due to come into force on 1 January 2012.

Mr Agnew was at pains to point out that the egg industry believes that as much as 29 per cent of EU egg production will still be from caged birds when the ban comes into force.

Commenting after the meeting, Mr Agnew said: "The Commission is burying its head in the sand on this issue. Its representative at the meeting, ironically, an Englishman called Newman was not prepared to speculate on what might happen if a significant number of hens are still in cages. His line is 'it will be alright on the night', despite the fact that financially, let alone logistically the industry believes that 29 per cent of EU production will still be in cages on D-Day. He was not prepared to discuss suggestions that battery cage eggs must not leave the country of production. He would only say that the Commission is constantly reminding member states of their obligations. No mention was made of any attempt by the Commission to either encourage or force them to comply with the ban.

"Once again, I championed the obvious solution of creating an extra number '4' classification to be used to identify colony-produced eggs but Mr Newman failed to answer because he believes that there will not be a need for it. The potential disaster here is that English egg producers have invested heavily in the infrastructure needed to comply with the ban and having met the deadline, will find themselves in unfair competition from suppliers outside of the EU or from member states who have not met the deadline but have been allowed extensions."

Mr Agnew made the Commission's options very clear during the Committee meeting: "You have no Plan B, so on 1st January 2012 you will have to make a choice. Either you ban 29 per cent of production, which will be replaced by imported eggs from outside the EU, which of course will be produced in battery cages, or you give the non-compliant member states more time, resulting in eggs from different production systems being put on the market under the same label."