Farming presidents to hold talks on free-range status

02-02-2017 | |
Farming presidents to hold talks on free-range status. Photo: Bert Jansen
Farming presidents to hold talks on free-range status. Photo: Bert Jansen

The UK farming presidents are to hold urgent discussions with MEPs and EU decision makers, urging them to extend the 12 week free-range poultry status.

The status is being impacted by the compulsory housing order that is currently in place until 28 February.

Extension until AI risk subsides

They will ask that the extension applies to both free-range egg and poultry meat and continues until the risk from avian influenza subsides.

They added that the UK market will be one of the most affected due to half of our national flocks being free-range, by far the highest percentage of any member state.

UK poultry in unchartered territory

In a joint release, the UK Presidents said: “With this outbreak of avian influenza, we are in unchartered territory and this situation requires new measures that will help to solve the concerns of producers.

“The 4 UK farming unions are calling on MEPs and decision makers to extend the 12 week period on free-range status until the risk has subsided to previous levels.

Extension needed to give poultry farmers certainty

“Farmers across the UK and Europe need this extension to give them certainty that their produce will have a market. The demand from shoppers for free-range eggs and poultry meat has increased significantly over the past 25 years and we want our producers to be able to provide for them.”

Unless action is taken, they claimed, producers faced the risk of going out of business, leaving consumers with less choice.

Copa-Cogeca, the European farmers’ organisations, has sent a letter to the European Commission setting out the concerns of European farmers and offered possible solutions, such as this extension, ahead of a meeting with MEPs.

The Presidents will also aim to raise avian influenza as a priority as the Copa Presidium on 9-10 February alongside their European colleagues.

Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist