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Reform to Hen Cages Right & Necessary, Says Labour MEP

by 5m Editor
23 March 2012, at 9:53am

UK - "New EU regulations on hen cages will help ensure better animal welfare," said Brian Simpson MEP, a member of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development.


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"British producers have done the right thing and complied with EU law, and the UK government must support its farmers by pushing for full compliance in all Member States."
Brian Simpson, MEP

An EU ban on battery cages came into force on 1 January 2012, requiring egg producers across the Union to provide hens with larger and more comfortable cages. Producers have known that the ban on battery cages was coming since it was first introduced in 1999 but 13 Member States have not complied, and are continuing to produce 'illegal' eggs.

Mr Simpson said: "12 years ago the European Union made the bold decision to implement the banning of battery cages to ensure the welfare of caged hens. The UK industry has since invested £400 million to introduce cages that meet the new legislation. As a result our local producers can offer quality, ethically produced eggs.

"There has been understandable concern that local farmers will be priced out of the market by cheaper battery hen eggs. But the real problem is the Member States that are flouting this ban, by selling cheap eggs that fail to meet the high standards that British consumers, animal welfare groups - and now the law - expect."

To prevent UK farmers being undercut, British egg producers are keen to stop the import of cheap illegal eggs, and the British Retail Consortium has guaranteed that conventional caged eggs will not be bought by major retailers or used as ingredients in their own–brand products

"Authorities in non-complying Member States must act now to stop battery hen production. British producers have done the right thing and complied with EU law, and the UK government must support its farmers by pushing for full compliance in all Member States. This will ensure that our local producers aren't priced out and that consumers can buy quality eggs for fair prices," Mr Simpson added.

The European Commission has begun legal proceedings against Member States that failed to meet the deadline, and those that continue to defy the ban may be referred to the European Courts of Justice.

"Farmers have made huge investments to improve hen welfare, and they now need supermarkets, the catering industry and consumers to buy local eggs and reject eggs and egg-based products that do not meet EU standards," Mr Simpson said.