Rule changes set to spark exodus from egg industry
A shortage of home-produced eggs for the domestic market will be a reality by the end of next year as strict new EU laws on poultry units come into force.
Under the new regulations, which were passed into Irish law in June and come into force from January 1, 2012, it will be illegal to sell eggs from conventional caged birds.
Producers will be required to keep their hens in 'enriched cages', which provide a more natural environment for the birds.
However, industry sources have claimed that 94pc of Irish egg units do not meet the new welfare requirements.
While many egg producers plan to convert next year, it is feared that too many farmers need to overhaul their production systems in too short a space of time.
The problem stems from producers who waited for details of a Department of Agriculture grant scheme.
As a result, most farmers will only be in a position to convert their units next summer.
Monaghan egg producer Gordon McConkey maintained that there were choppy waters ahead for the industry.