French poultry trade to fight for free-range status

FRANCE - France's free-range poultry breeders said on Wednesday they would fight to keep their prized status if ordered to keep chickens inside amid fears they could be the first affected by government moves to keep out bird flu.

France is by far Europe's biggest free-range poultry producer, selling 145 million birds a year worth 480 million euros. It accounts for 10 percent of France's poultry output.

Authorities in the Netherlands and Bavaria have already issued confinement restrictions to prevent contact between poultry and migratory birds potentially carrying the deadly H5N1 virus.

Amid signs that overall chicken consumption is already starting to fall in France, free-range producers fear they could be particularly hit and their "Label Rouge" -- a top quality classification for outdoor-reared birds -- could be removed.

The government has not yet announced any measures, but the industry said it would press to keep the quality branding.

"We will apply confinement measures if told to but it will be extremely complicated," an official from the national union for free-range poultry (SYNALAF) told Reuters.

Source: Reuters
calendar icon 20 October 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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