The Northern Ireland minister of agriculture has called for a 12-month delay in implementing the new poultrymeat marketing rules to give the industry more time.
Minister Michelle Gildernew recently met a small group of Fermanagh-based poultry producers to discuss new EU rules which extends the scope of the poultrymeat marketing legislation to include poultrymeat preparations.
The new rules will prohibit the sale of poultry preparations made from previously frozen poultry meat in the chilled state (unfrozen). Consequently, all preparations using previously frozen meat must will have to be sold as frozen.
This will affect peak demand products such as turkey portions and BBQ in particular. UK practice is to build stocks of these products throughout the year, using super-chill freezing technology and releasing them for sale as seasonal demand grows.
Following the meeting, the Minister said: “I was keen to hear directly the concerns of poultry growers on the ground and discuss the challenges that they face within their poultry farm businesses.
“From the outset, I have been in favour of this legislation, which is part of an EU drive to improve consumer information.
“However, I also recognised that it would cause initial disruption to local producers, and that is why I had requested the Commission consider a 12-month delay is bringing it in – to allow for preparation.”
But, the Commission has ruled this out confirming that the new legislation will take effect in May across Europe.
With no delay possible, the minister added: “I have asked my officials to look at the financial support available to the poultry industry and will carefully consider any recommendations.”