The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has released its comments on recent rules announced regarding both the poultry and egg industries.
Farming Minister Jim Paice announced new rules for meat chicken welfare at the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference. Legislation sets stocking density rates that are stricter (at 39 kilograms per square meter) than other European Union (EU) member states (at 42 kilograms per square meter), which the NFU said will place the industry in Great Britain at a competitive disadvantage.
"This is clear and simple gold plating by our government and it will be damaging to the UK industry," said NFU poultry board chairman Charles Bourns. "Approximately 55% of the chicken imports into the UK come from Holland and Poland where producers have had to come down to 42kg/m², their new legal limit. This means that NFU members will not be able to compete with this chicken being imported into our market."
Government support for egg producers who invest in enriched colony systems on laying hen farms was also announced. While Bourns said the NFU approves of protecting the investment of such egg producers, he also said the government will have to keep an eye on potential fair trade issues that may arise from conventional cages still being used in other EU states after a 2012 ban on all conventional cages in the UK goes into effect.