Call for Ag Council to Stand Firm on Cage Ban

EU - Eurogroup for Animals is urging EU Agriculture Ministers attending today's Agriculture Council to reject the proposal to postpone the 2012 ban on conventional battery cages for laying hens by five years as requested by Poland in a recent letter sent to all 27 EU Agriculture Ministers.
calendar icon 22 February 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

There is no reason for delaying the ban as the 1999 legislation provided for a remarkable transition period of 12 and a half years, allowing producers to spread their capital investments for the removal of battery cages over a number of years, says Eurogroup for Animals.

The decision to ban the use of conventional battery cages for egg laying hens came after years of campaigning by animal welfare groups and overwhelming scientific evidence that, in these conditions chickens are suffering. Cramped in wire cages with each hen having only the room of an A4 sheet, they are unable to perform normal behaviour, stretch their wings, dust bathe and move around freely.

Sonja Van Tichelen, Director of Eurogroup for Animals, said: "This ban is the result of a democratic process and expresses the wishes of European consumers. Some egg producers have deliberately waited to change their systems hoping that the EU would change its mind. Allowing these farmers to continue to use battery cages would seriously undermine the credibility of EU legislation. It would also distort competition and penalise those producers who have already invested and improved the welfare of their hens."

In many countries, the retail sector has already opted to follow consumer preference for good animal welfare standards and no longer sells eggs from battery cages. This change is happening much earlier than the legal date of the entry into force of the ban and as a result the demand for eggs produced in free range systems is growing.

The new EU Agriculture Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, has already stated that the proposed start date of the ban will be maintained.

He said: "We need to stick to our values," confirming that animal welfare considerations are a central part of European food production.

Eurogroup will continue urging the Commission and member states to put extra efforts in to ensuring that producers comply with the legislation in time for the 2012 deadline.

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