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Weekly Overview: British Poultry Meat Output up by One-third in 20 Years

27 February 2014

GLOBAL - This week, the UK is in the news as we take a look at the poultry industry and offer a round-up of the highlights of the National Farmers Union annual conference, which took place this week, writes Jackie Linden. In one of our articles this week, a veterinarian from Mexico estimates the cost of low-pathogenic avian flu to the local poultry industry, how these massive costs have accrued and what needs to be done to bring the disease under control.

Poultry accounts for more than 40 per cent of all meat that is eaten in the United Kingdom - which sounds like a success story - but in some areas, the industry needs to improve its communication to consumers about how poultry meat is produced, the welfare conditions used for rearing the birds and the safety of the products.

Speaking at the recent Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board Outlook Conference in London recently, Chris Dickinson from the National Farmers Union said that last year UK poultry producers produced 1.4 million tonnes of broiler meat – 35 per cent more than was being produced in the 1990s.

Turkey producers produced 189,000 tonnes of turkey meat and the UK is more than 80 per cent self-sufficient in poultry meat. After years of decline, the turkey industry has started to pick up.

Mr Dickinson explained that while the country is largely self-sufficient, there is a major carcass imbalance that means the industry has to import breast meat and export the dark meat. Most of the imports come from continental Europe.

The annual conference of the National Farmers Union has been held this week in Birmingham, and Chris Harris has been reporting from the event for ThePoultrySite.

Retiring NFU president, Peter Kendall, said that UK farming needs a long-term strategic plan and that the government should view agriculture as key in a broad spectrum of policies beyond just farming and food production in his opening address to the conference.

He added that immigration regulations including seasonal workers, how imports are monitors for disease, how research councils target research and development funds, planning policy and the Treasury’s approach to taxation all affect on the agricultural sector.

Also at the conference, farming minister George Eustice outlined the details of a £10-million Farming Recovery Fund to offer farmers support with uninsured losses and to help them get back into production after recent severe flooding.

New Zealand High Commissioner, Sir Lockwood Smith, called on the EU and New Zealand to open negotiations on a free trade agreement, explaining that his country is one of only six members of the World Trade Organization that had not opened free trade negotiations with the EU.

And finally, turning to news of bird flu, China continues to report human cases of H7N9 flu in humans, while a number of outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus have been reported in the last week in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Nepal.

A veterinarian in Mexico has told ThePoultrySite that low-pathogenic avian flu in his country has cost the local poultry industry US$246 million annually over the last 18 years, or a cumulative $4.4 billion. He outlines how these costs have mounted up and suggests six steps to setting the country's poultry industry back on the path to good health again.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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