The NFU claimed yesterday that the battery cage ban in 2012 will do little to improve chicken welfare if the same standards are not applied to imports.
It was also calling on the Government to set an example in its own food procurement policies.
Charles Bourns, chairman of the NFU poultry board said that egg producers were prepared to accept the cage ban provided that it did not lead to the export of the egg industry to countries with lower standards of chicken welfare.
“The fact that the EU has said it is not going to extend the deadline for outlawing the present generation of battery cages does at least remove any uncertainty,” said Mr Bourns.
He went on to explain that it would be “pointless and counter-productive”, if the same level of welfare is not extended to all of the chickens involved in supplying eggs to the European market and not just the chickens housed in the EU.
“We also want to see the Government taking a lead on this issue, instead of applying the same old double standards,” added Mr Bourns.
Mr Bourns said that the Government departments were still sourcing over 40% of their food from imports, including chicken and eggs, from countries using systems that would be unacceptable to UK farm assurance protocols.