IFA Poultry Chairman Nigel Sweetnam has warned that recommendations from the European Food Safety Authority for broilers and laying hens have the potential to quadruple the cost of production for poultry growers.
“The recommendations from EFSA are on welfare alone. Full impact assessments must be completed on the environmental and financial sustainability of these recommendations. The proposals would mean the quadrupling of the energy requirements and the doubling of feed. This could result in a 2kg chicken costing €25 to the consumer,” he said.
“Poultry has risen in price, reflecting the huge increases in the cost of production. However, this follows a 20-year period where chicken and eggs declined in price,” he said.
The Commission intends to revise the animal welfare legislation by the end of 2023. As part of this, they mandated the EFSA to produce a report which recommends a 75% reduction in the capacity of poultry sheds for layers and broilers; changes in transport; and the limiting of growth rates.
Nigel Sweetnam said there has to be consideration of the cost implications of proposed measures. “This has the potential to decimate our poultry industry in Ireland, but also in the EU. It will open us up to more imported chicken from outside the EU, where we have no control over how the birds are farmed,” he said.
“If retailers or the European Union want to drive this initiative, they must be made aware that the sector’s survival is hanging on a knife edge if these recommendations were to be implemented. Farm families and livelihoods are at risk and so too is the future of our food security,” he concluded.