DEFRA farming minister Jim Paice will once again be addressing the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference this autumn, giving the government’s perspective on a range of issues affecting the industry.

Last year at EPIC Mr Paice pledged to protect the UK’s enriched cage egg sector from illegal imports, should Brussels fail to take action against other EU countries still using conventional cages.

Time is now running short and there has been no further indication of what the government might do. By the time Mr Paice addresses the 2011 conference on 7 November, it will be just a few weeks before the new EU welfare rules take effect.

Latest estimates suggest that 23% of the EU egg laying flock will still be in conventional cages on 1 January 2012 – and the EU Commission has still come up with nothing in terms of restricting the flow of illegal eggs.

The EPIC conference provides an ideal opportunity to quiz the minister on how he will ensure British egg producers are not put at a competitive disadvantage.

As well as this most topical of issues, the overall theme of EPIC 2011 is “Sustainability – More from Less”. It is a wide remit, covering productivity, resource use, environmental impact, technological development, waste management and renewable energy.

These issues will all get an airing, with a view to delivering practical recommendations that delegates can take away.

In addition to the minister, key speakers include Andy Clarke, chief executive of Asda; John Reed, chairman of the British Poultry Council; Andrew Joret of Noble Foods and Prof Patrick Wall from University College Dublin.

• Event details

The event opens on Sunday 6 November at 6.30pm with a drinks reception at the conference venue, the Forest of Arden Hotel, near Birmingham, followed by the White Meat Supper.

The serious business takes place on Monday 7 November with a vibrant mix of speakers and panel sessions addressing the conference theme. This will be followed by the Poultry Industry Banquet, with good food, fine wine and entertainment.

To book a place visit the conference website www.epiconference.co.uk and download the booking form or email Howard Birley at info@epiconference.co.uk. Accommodation at the Forest of Arden can also be booked through the website.

• Full details of the conference will also appear in next month’s (October’s) Poultry World.