November 4, 2010
UK poultry industry threatened by illegal eggs
The British Egg Insdustry Council held a briefing in Westminster recently to hear about the threats to UK poultry producers from illegal eggs post-2011, when the ban on conventional layer cages comes into effect.
MP Roger Williams, who was hosting the briefing, said that many of his constituents had gone into poultry production in recent years, so he was well aware of the problem. "It is of particular importance that they do not face unfair competition from other countries that do not comply with the regulations," he said.
DEFRA should hold firm on pressing the case for an intra-community trade ban and a means of identifying illegal eggs. "We shall hold their feet to the heat if they don't," Roger Williams said.
BEIC chief executive Mark Williams told the MPs that the UK egg industry had spent Â£400 million (US$645 million), or Â£25 (US$40.31) a bird, on getting ready for the new legislation. This investment must not be undermined.
He urged the MPs to press the coalition government and the EU Commission to ensure the British egg sector did not suffer the same fate as the pig sector, which had been forced to comply with domestic welfare legislation years before the rest of Europe.
Meanwhile, UK agriculture minister Jim Paice has pledged to do all in his power to fend off any imported eggs that fail to meet the new legal standards adhered to in the UK. Speaking at last month's Conservative Party Conference he said that British egg producers had been doing the right thing by investing large sums of money in upgrading their facilities.
The 2012 conventional cage ban had been set in stone for 10 years, so there was no excuse for any egg producer in Europe not to be ready for it.
The government was looking to Brussels to ensure that British producers were not disadvantaged in the event that some other member states were given more time. "If the EU Commission fails to do that - and I'm not suggesting that they will - then clearly we will have to take our own action," Paice said.