The Irish Organic Farmers & Growers Association (IOFGA) welcomes the EU Directive to outlaw the cages currently used in battery egg production in three years time.
A spokesman for IOA said, â€˜Most consumers of battery eggs donâ€™t realise the conditions in which the poultry used to produce these eggs are kept. On these factory farms, birds are kept in cages in cramped, windowless sheds. Each cage typically houses four to five birds and each has only as much space as an A4 piece of paper. Apart from the very real animal welfare issues, in Ireland we have got to move to higher quality production such as organic and away from commodity type production. Given our higher wages and other costs we simply cannot compete with output from low wage countries. Operating to a higher standard has the potential to give Irish faming a marketing advantage in overseas markets. However, whilst welcoming the Directive, IOA recognises that it is important that the EU also puts in place adequate controls on imports from outside the EU to ensure that farmers operating to higher standards within the EU do not face unfair competition.â€™
In contrast with battery production all poultry on IOA certified organic farms must have access to outside ranges and pasture with an emphasis on enabling the birds to express their natural behaviour. Unlike intensively reared birds, organic poultry canâ€™t be given routine doses of antibiotics which weaken the animals natural immune system so increasing the reliance on drugs.
A study in the UK on commercial laying farms indicates that Salmonella levels are five times higher in intensive egg units than in organic units. (published in The Veterinary Record (2007) 161 471 â€“ 476) Whilst Salmonella food poisoning can be avoided through the proper cooking of eggs and meat, anything which reduces the incidence of this bug should be encouraged â€“ such as genuine organic egg production.
The Irish rganic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA) is the largest organic certification organisation in Ireland representing approx 1,000 farmers, growers and processors. It is responsible for certifying the organic provenance of its members produce and the IOA symbol indicates that a product has met the highest standard or organic integrity. IOA also works to inform the public about the benefits or organic food and to support the development of organic food production in Ireland.
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For further information contact:
John Oâ€™Neill Tel 087 612 5989