EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has called for extra help to poultry farmers suffering from market collapse in the wake of the H5N1 strain of avian flu.

“It is quite clear that the extent of the crisis cannot be handled effectively within the existing legal framework,” she told EU agriculture ministers meeting in Brussels.

So far this year the EU Commission has made use of the only instrument at its disposal, increasing export refunds for poultry.

“But the effects of this were limited due to the fact that several Third countries have introduced import restrictions on our exports,” said the commissioner.

Mrs Fischer Boel therefore suggested more targeted measures to cut surpluses.

“When you look at the stock situation in some member states, what is desperately needed is to reduce production,” she said.

“Targeting hatching eggs and chicks would be the most profitable approach.”

The commissioner was vague on the specifics, except to say that any measures would be aimed at those member states with the worst problems..

Mrs Fischer Boel also indicated that she would take a sympathetic view when considering various state aids offered by member states to their poultry sectors.

philip.clarke@rbi.co.uk