EU rules reprieve could be on cards for egg producers
A temporary reprieve could be on the cards for egg producers who have not changed their housing arrangements for poultry flocks to comply with EU directives.
Up to 10 farmers across the country could be forced to cull hundreds of thousands of hens this week after the Department of Agriculture informed them they cannot sell eggs from their farms as 'table eggs'.
Ireland is among 14 EU member states which have not fully complied with a directive issued back in 1999 to phase out so-called battery cages to house hens and replace them with 'enriched' cages. The use of the small-wire battery cages has been deemed illegal since January 1.
However, Ireland West MEP, Marian Harkin, claimed the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, had indicated at a recent meeting that he would consider allowing eggs from these farms to be sold to the catering sector as an interim solution to the problem.
The meeting took place before Christmas between Commissioner Dalli and a number of MEPs from the ALDE Group (Liberals and Democrats), including Ms Harkin.
Ms Harkin said her "best recollection" from the meeting was that Commissioner Dalli was open to such an interim solution and for a given period.
She said Department officials should get on to the Commission to find out if such an offer was available.