Chickens could soar to €25 in price if stringent European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) poultry welfare recommendations are written into EU law, the IFA has said, as it renewed warnings on the authority’s proposals.

EFSA issued a scientific opinion on poultry, which suggested that house stocking rates should be slashed and growth rates cut to guide the EU in the process of overhauling animal welfare standards.

IFA poultry chair, Nigel Sweetnam, stated that the economic and environmental sustainability of the poultry sector must factor into any updates to welfare rules.

Full impact assessments needed

“The recommendations from EFSA are on welfare alone,” Sweetnam said.

“Full impact assessments must be completed on the environmental and financial sustainability of these recommendations.

“The proposals would mean the quadrupling of the energy requirements and the doubling of feed. This could result in a 2kg chicken costing €25 to the consumer.”

Import replacement fears

Sweetnam warned that imposing higher standards on EU and Irish farmers could lead to a drop in domestic production, followed by a rise in poultry imports.

“This has the potential to decimate our poultry industry in Ireland, but also in the EU," he said. "It will open us up to more imported chicken from outside the EU, where we have no control over how the birds are farmed.”

“If retailers or the EU wants to drive this initiative, they must be made aware that the sector’s survival is hanging on a knife's edge if these recommendations were to be implemented.

“Farm families and livelihoods are at risk and so too is the future of our food security.”

The IFA chair also pointed out that any recent increases in the costs of poultry goods comes after decades of retailer price cuts.

“Poultry has risen in price, reflecting the huge increases in the cost of production. However, this follows a 20-year period where chicken and eggs declined in price.”

Read more

Strict new EU rules proposed for poultry farms