Five top things George Eustice said at Epic

Defra farming minister George Eustice addressed more than 300 representatives at the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference (Epic) on Monday (2 November).

Here are his five key points:

1. On transatlantic trade deal concerns

He recognised UK industry concerns about the prospect of poultry products reared at lower welfare and food standards entering the country from the US as a result of the EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal. Mr Eustice pledged that the EU would “not compromise on food safety standards”.

See also: Compulsory levy to fund bird flu costs gains momentum, Epic hears

2. Export markets after bird flu

He would examine whether he could reopen export markets earlier following an avian influenza outbreak, in the light of industry concerns about having to wait for full secondary cleansing and disinfection to have been completed. Mr Eustice revealed that other sectors did not have the same stringent requirements before export markets could be reopened.

3. Chinese export opportunities

There was potential for the poultry sector to export more dark chicken meat and fifth-quarter products. Secretary of state Liz Truss will shortly lead a food and farming trade mission to China, and Mr Eustice said the Chinese love of chicken feet presented a “real market opportunity that should be taken”.

4. Futures markets

He was keen to investigate the possibility of developing futures markets for the poultry and dairy sectors in the UK, saying it could be very useful in both business forward planning and risk management.

5. Beak trimming

The lessons learned from the Bristol University report into not beak trimming and the forthcoming recommendations from the Beak Trimming Action Group should not be lost. Mr Eustice said he did not want to see emergency hot blading of birds emerge, adding that “we must not lose what we have learned from trials in management techniques”.