Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2002-03

23 July 2003 Poultry Farming in the United Kingdom

23 July 2003 Poultry Farming in the United Kingdom

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has today published a report into poultry farming in the United Kingdom.

The Committee concludes that ever-improving welfare standards, resulting in higher costs compared to foreign competitors, and increasing trade liberalisation mean that the United Kingdom’s poultry and egg industry face financial pressures. Taken together the two factors are eroding the ability of the United Kingdom poultry industry to survive.

The report argues that it is appropriate for those who wish to sell in our marketplace to meet the standards expected of our own producers. The Government, with its European Union partners, should develop a strategy to ensure that all poultry meat, eggs and products containing them conform to the food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards that we expect of producers in the Single Market.

On publication of the report, the Chairman of the Sub-committee which undertook the inquiry, David Taylor MP, said:

“Higher welfare standards for both the poultry and egg sectors are needed. The steps already taken by the industry to improve animal welfare are welcome, and changes proposed by the Government and the European Union will help further. There is a public interest in achieving the highest possible welfare standards in all areas of animal husbandry in the United Kingdom.

“However, higher standards cannot be forced on United Kingdom producers if we do not expect foreign producers to achieve the same standards. To allow chicken and eggs to be sold in this country which do not meet the standards accepted here does not allow our producers to compete on a level playing field. The result will be that domestic producers will go out of business and jobs will be lost, and that the problems of poor welfare standards will effectively be exported to other countries.”

Members of the media who wish to interview Mr Taylor are asked to call 020 7219 3263.


The Committee’s report into Poultry Farming in the United Kingdom is its Thirteenth Report of Session 2002-03 (HC 779-I).

The report follows an inquiry undertaken on behalf of the Committee by a Sub-committee chaired by David Taylor MP. The other members of the Sub-committee were David Borrow MP, David Curry MP, Austin Mitchell MP, Diana Organ MP and Bill Wiggin MP.

The Sub-committee was set up in March, and took oral evidence during June, from representatives of the poultry and egg industries, trade unions and retailers. Evidence was also taken from Compassion in World Farming and from Lord Whitty, a Defra Minister. Further information was gathered during the Committee’s recent visit to Brazil.


Further details of the Committee, including its current membership, can be found on the Committee's homepage at http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environment__food_and_rural_affairs.cfm .  Information about the Committee can also be obtained from 020 7219 3262.