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Minister Gets Tough on Laying Hens Directive

8 December 2011, at 9:11am

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has stressed her determination that local egg producers do not suffer as a result of the Laying Hens Directive.

She was responding to a motion in the Assembly in relation to the ban on the use of conventional cages for laying hens from 1 January 2012.

The motion was tabled as there is concern that one third of Europe's egg industries will not be compliant with the EU Laying Hens Directive by January 2012; and as a result of this egg producers here could be disadvantaged by cheaper imports which derive from non-compliant producers.

Speaking after the debate, Minister O'Neill said: "While we are self sufficient in the north as regards egg production and import only three per cent of eggs, we could still suffer if illegally produced eggs flood the European market, as this could lead to an unfair distortion of market prices here."

"I will be taking forward a robust and effective enforcement strategy to help prevent non-compliant eggs arriving in the north. I also met with the British Egg Industry Council this afternoon and assured them that I would look to do whatever is legally possible to protect the industry here, including consideration of a trade ban on these eggs."

"Surveillance and inspection in Britain will also help to ensure that non-compliant eggs do not arrive here in the first place."

The Minister concluded by saying: "I want to take this opportunity to thank and pay tribute to our poultry producers who have already made a very significant financial investment to convert to enriched cages."