NFU calls for animal welfare to be Europe-wide

The NFU has requested that EU rules on animal welfare in the UK be held off until other countries in Europe have put their own regulations in place.

Deputy president of the NFU, Meurig Raymond, claimed that other countries were gaining an unfair competitive advantage from their less stringent application of animal welfare rules.

"We are proud to have led the charge on animal welfare in the UK, but we are rarely compensated in the market place," said Raymond.

"Other countries can produce animals and animal products for less because their standards are not as high," Raymond added.

Existing legislation must be implemented fairly across all member states, and any global partners wanting to trade with us.

This should be the primary goal before current rules are made more difficult, he added.

Raymond referred to the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive, which stipulates that all hens in Europe should be in conventional cages by 2012.

Some nations were seeking a derogation to extend the deadline, while the UK poultry industry was set to spend 1 billion on the implementation of the directive.

This will threaten the competitiveness and viability of UK poultry farmers who have worked hard to implement the new regulations, Raymond said.

New proposals on animal welfare are expected from the European Commission by the end of the year.

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