Government grants for new egg producers are not to blame for a drop in egg prices in Scotland, according to NFU Scotland poultry committee chairman Robert Chapman, who has also called on packers to be more responsible.

“There is no reason to stop the grants for the expansion of free-range or enriched cages in Scotland,” he told Poultry World. “It’s really up to the packers not to give contacts to producers if they don’t have markets for them.”

Mr Chapman was responding to an article in The Scotsman newspaper in which Dennis Surgenor, the secretary of the Scottish Egg Producer Retailers Association (SEPRA), said grants had distorted the market.

According to SEPRA, the bulk of the £60m of grants awarded to Scottish farmers under the Scottish Rural Development Programme went to new poultry units and this has led to an over-supply of eggs.

But Mr Chapman believes the industry is not suffering a long-term slump. “I’m sure it’s going to come okay. Obviously we have the (2012 conventional) cage ban, which will take all the old cage stuff out, and then we’ve got the reduction in stocking density,” he said. “When that happens I think the market will all come into balance.”

Until then, he supported the idea of industry-wide talks to control price variation during this current period of expansion. “It’s always good to speak in relation to these things and a meeting with packers would be a good idea,” he said.