Minister Aims to Protect Scottish Egg Producers

SCOTLAND, UK - Eggs produced from chickens kept in inferior conditions should be banned to protect the Scottish industry from cheap imports, Richard Lochhead said yesterday.
calendar icon 22 February 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs has demanded that a ban is imposed on exports of eggs from countries which fail to adhere to strict European welfare rules on battery cages, due to come into force in 2012.

The move follows concerns by the Scottish industry that some member states may fail to meet the deadline set in 1999 and that an extension to implement the new rules may be granted. This would put Scottish producers at a competitive disadvantage following considerable investment by the industry in replacing barren cages with new enriched cages or changing to the barn or free range systems.

Mr Lochhead raised his concerns with Defra Minister, Caroline Spelman, demanding that the Scottish position was made absolutely clear to the Commission.

Speaking from the European Agriculture Council meeting in Brussels, Mr Lochhead said: "The Scottish egg industry has invested considerable sums converting their systems to ensure we meet the strictest possible welfare standards.

"Some member states are claiming that, despite having had more than a decade to comply, they will not be able to make the changes needed in time. If these states are granted an extension at the 11th hour it could place our industry at a serious competitive disadvantage.

"A ban on exports from non-compliant member states would be essential."

The Commission has requested that member states report on progress made by their respective industries in complying with the legislation by April.

The European Commission announced, in 1999, that the use of barren or battery cages for laying hens would be banned from 1 January 2012. Member States were advised that only enriched cages – which should include a perch, scratching area and nest box – would be permitted from that date.

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