UK farming unions have met to discuss how they can help protect the poultry industry after new welfare regulations come into force next year.
Representatives of the NFU, Ulster Farmers’ Association, NFU Cymru and NFU Scotland met to discuss the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive, which will be law from January 1 2012. Top of the agenda was the likely non-compliance of producers in some other European countries.
British farmers have spent an estimated £400m to meet the rules, but the picture is less clear elsewhere and farmers in several Member States will miss the January 2012 deadline.
According to figures from the European Commission, more than 11 million hens will still be housed in un-enriched cages when the EU ban comes into force.
At the meeting in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, the UK and Irish unions agreed to join forces and to come up with a plan to help prevent illegal eggs from entering the country and the food chain. The majority of shell eggs imported into the UK come from Spain, Netherlands, Ireland, France and Germany, with liquid eggs and yolks coming from Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and France.