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Welsh NFU Calls for Clamp-Down on Illegal Eggs

06 September 2011

WALES, UK - NFU Cymru has commended recommendations for a clamp-down on illegal eggs and egg-based products from next year, after the EU batter cage ban comes into effect.

The Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee has published its recommendations following its enquiry on the implications of the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive for the egg industry. It agrees with the position taken by NFU Cymru that the industry will be at a competitive disadvantage if non-compliant conventional cage producers in other European member states are able to export shell eggs and egg products after 1 January 2012, when enriched colony cages will be a statutory minimum across Europe.

NFU Cymru has continually raised concerns that farmers in several European member states will have failed to upgrade their cages in time and lobbied for an intra-community trade ban. The EFRA committee has criticised the European Commission's complacency over the level of compliance with the directive and has supported calls for an intra-community trade ban on export of shell eggs and egg products from non-compliant egg producers.

NFU Cymru poultry board chairman, Tony Burgess, said: "We are very pleased with the findings and recommendations from EFRA as they come after a lot of hard lobbying work done on behalf of members in an attempt to protect the Welsh egg industry.

"The committee shares our view on a number of issues, such as the need to develop a strategy for non-compliance – something that we all agree should have been done by the European Commission already to act as a deterrent and to recognise the potential damage that might be caused to compliant producers.

"We are also pleased the committee is recommending that the Commission initiates infraction procedures against member states with non-compliant producers and that the powers of the Food and Veterinary Office are strengthened to help ensure all member states have robust inspection procedures in place to enforce compliance.

"Ultimately, Welsh egg producers have made significant investments on their farms to meet these new standards and there is a real threat that all this effort could be for nothing if they run the risk of being undercut by cheap imports from countries which are still producing eggs in lower welfare systems. We will continue to lobby the Commission to ensure this does not happen and it is vital that the Welsh Government prioritises this issue to safeguard the future of the Welsh egg industry."

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