British poultry producers must not be put at a competitive disadvantage by lower standard imports following free-trade talks, the NFU has told legislators in Brussels.
Addressing a “bacon and egg” breakfast meeting with MEPs, NFU poultry board chairman Duncan Priestner said that British consumers expected and demanded higher welfare, environmental and food safety standards.
British poultry farmers had already invested hundreds of millions to deliver that, which all added to cost. But the on-gong Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks with the US could put the industry at risk from cheaper imports.
“We would like to send out a clear message to those involved in the negotiations that we do not regard US poultry production systems to be equivalent to the UK. We believe that the gap between the EU and US production methods is too wide and it is unrealistic to reach a compromise,” said Mr Priestner.
In particular, the NFU points to the fact that 95% of US eggs come from battery cages, now banned in the EU, at 25% lower cost.
And on the poultrymeat side, US processors use chlorine to wash poultrymeat in factories. In the EU only potable water can be used, placing a huge emphasis on on-farm hygiene.