ADDRESSING THE sixth Alternative Systems Conference organised by BOCM PAULS Poultry World Editor Graham Cruickshank took the opportunity to remind delegates of some of the key challenges facing them over the coming years.

His first concern was DEFRA which he described as “an overlarge Government Department rapidly becoming the ‘Achilles Heel‘ of all involved in agriculture”.

Ever increasing bureaucracy added further to the hidden costs borne by both producers and suppliers alike.

It was essential industry mounted a strong lobby to ensure their views were heard and, perhaps more important understood.

On planning and legislation, he pointed out there were over 50 Acts, Regulations and Orders which could be applied to poultry units.

It was important to challenge legislation the alternative being “to get a bigger desk”.

On welfare he challenged the demand to for breeders to use their genetic know how to reduced aggressiveness in their stock.

“Beware an over docile bird, cannibalism was as more a function of management than breeding,” he suggested.

Graham queried the move to larger units and there acceptability to retailers and supermarkets warning they may also face the imposition of IPPC charges.

While extensively produced eggs represented 40% of retail sales, there would likely be pressure on prices if they increased market share much above 50%.

It was essential to retain some form of intensive production, delegates should sign up to the ‘Campaign for Cage Sense‘ and support enriched colony systems.

“Without some form of cage production free range would become the value eggs of tomorrow.”

He questioned the need for different standards when Lion Code had been accepted by all retailers questioning the justification of other standards, in particular Freedom Food.

These other standards all had a cost to bear but the industry got little back for compliance unlike Lion Scheme which ploughed money into egg promotion.

“Supermarkets would be better off concentrating on promoting quality rather than price.

“With an election on the horizon there was never a better time to put the case for a fairer deal for British Farmers.”