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Egg Industry Supports EFRA Report

by 5m Editor
2 September 2011, at 7:43am

UK - The National Farmers Union (NFU) and the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) have welcomed today's report from Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) urging action as the EU ban on conventional battery cages approaches.

NFU says it is pleased that EFRA has thrown its support behind the British egg industry by recommending a clamp-down on illegal eggs and egg products from next year.

NFU says the EFRA select committee agrees with its position – that the industry will be at a competitive disadvantage if non-compliant conventional cage producers in other Member States are able to export shell eggs and egg products after January 1 2012, when enriched colony cages will be a statutory minimum across Europe.

The NFU has continually raised concerns that farmers in several member states will have failed to upgrade their cages in time and lobbied for an intra-community trade ban.

NFU poultry board chairman, Charles Bourns, said: "We are very pleased with the findings and recommendations from EFRA as it comes after a lot of hard lobbying work from the NFU.

"The committee shares our view on a number of issues, such as the need to develop a strategy for non-compliance – something that we all agree should have been done by the European Commission already to act as a deterrent and to recognise the potential damage to compliant producers.

"We are also pleased the committee is recommending that the Commission initiates infraction procedures against member states with non-compliant producers and that the powers of the Food and Veterinary Office are strengthened to help ensure all member states have robust inspection procedures in place to enforce compliance.

"Ultimately, British egg farmers have spent around £400million on upgrading their farms to meet these new standards and there is a real threat that all this effort could be for nothing if they run the risk of being undercut by cheap imports from countries which are still producing eggs in lower welfare systems.

"We will continue to work with Defra and to lobby the Commission to ensure this does not happen," said Mr Bourns.

BEIC has also welcomed the EFRA report.

Mark Williams, Chief Executive of the BEIC commented: "The lack of action from the European Commission is staggering, as well as being potentially disastrous for the UK egg industry. British producers have invested heavily to meet their legal obligations and the European Commission needs to act now to ensure that UK producers do not suffer at the hands of illegal eggs and egg products. The Commission can no longer hide its head in the sand, immediate and decisive action is required now.

"We thank the EFRA Select Committee for its excellent report highlighting the plight of the industry and we hope that it will spur the Government and the European Commission into action."

The BEIC believes it is clear that many producers in some other member states will not meet the deadline on time and estimates that around a quarter of EU egg production, or around 70 million eggs a day, will become illegal when the deadline for implementation passes.

Mr Williams added: "Our Government has already stated that it stands 'four square' with those producers in this country who have made the investment ... and that an effective intra-EU ban on the trade of eggs and egg products produced by hens which continue to be housed in conventional ('battery') cages after 1st January 2012 should be put in place, to prevent 'illegal' eggs and egg products entering the UK. We want to see this support turned into action and reflected by the European Commission," said Mr Williams.

Further Reading

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