Fact-Finding Visit for Farming Minister

UK - The new Minister at the Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had her first opportunity to listen to the poultry industry on a food chain visit last week.
calendar icon 13 February 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Britain's poultry industry has received a political boost after the Farming Minister, Jane Kennedy, said she had been impressed with the careful treatment of the birds throughout her visit to Lincolnshire.

Speaking after the visit Ms Kennedy said, "I've really enjoyed the experience. I've had a look at the whole poultry food chain from farm to fork. It's been extremely interesting and it's given me the chance to understand some of the business pressures on the different sectors, especially the organic farmers."

The visit, organised by the British Poultry Council on 4 February, came just a week after she announced plans to implement Europe's first comprehensive welfare rules for chickens raised for meat.

Ms Kennedy said, "I think assurance schemes are a good thing, and I definitely don't want people to think that the new EU rules in some way do away with or replace voluntary assurance schemes.

"What we do have now are new European rules, which for the first time provide a legal baseline for all producers – including those who don't participate in any voluntary assurance schemes. And that means that other European producers will have to meet that legal baseline as well, meaning that our producers will have a more level playing field in the UK and European markets."

The Minister visited an assured chicken production farm near Lincoln, run by Hook 2 Sisters, and an organic farm managed by Harry Irwin during the morning. The afternoon was spent at 2 Sisters processing facility in Scunthorpe, which processes about 1.8 million chickens a week and employs more than 1,000 people.

The Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, Peter Bradnock, said, "The Farming Minister was given a guided tour along the chicken supply chain, from which she pledged to work with the producers and processors to address their core concerns."

Ms Kennedy added, "I heard first hand of the concerns that are preoccupying the industry, from the proposed requirement to inspect every flock to the burden of regulation that face small specialist producers through to the collapse of the organic free range market."

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