Paice: UK egg farmers must not be penalised
The UK has renewed calls for Europe to reach a workable agreement and stop eggs from illegal battery cages being sold across the common market.
Speaking in Brussels, UK Agriculture Minister Jim Paice, urged member states to agree a way forward on enforcing the imminent new ruling on battery cages. This follows concern among egg farmers with higher welfare standards they will be put at a competitive disadvantage to those who wilfully disobey the new law.
“UK egg farmers have led the way in introducing higher welfare standards, spending millions of pounds to convert to better cages”, said Farming Minister Jim Paice. “Despite having 12 years to prepare, producers in several Member States are nowhere near complying with the new rules but could still be able to sell eggs, putting our farmers who look after their chickens at a disadvantage.
“With the cut-off date looming, it really is unacceptable that the Commission is not able to enforce a regulation on animal welfare. British farmers who have invested in new systems and met their obligation will be put at risk.”
“I fully understand why other countries who have complied with the rules reject any compromise. However, that would mean the destruction of millions of eggs every week which would not be right. That is why the idea of a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to ensure that eggs from illegal cages do not leave the country of origin, seems the least worst option.”
The Commission has ruled out legislation to enforce the ban on free trade grounds, leaving producers free to sell cheaper battery eggs – much of it as liquid and powder– across the EU.
“The Commission has arranged for another meeting of specialists and I’m still hopeful that we can find a way forward,” concluded Paice.
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