WattAgNet: French fury at minister’s free-range egg commitment

ON FEBRUARY 22, 2018


President Emmanuel Macron had made an earlier campaign promise to ensure that cage-produced eggs would not be sold in France

Egg producers in France have reacted angrily to an announcement by the agriculture minister that from 2022, the only shell eggs sold in the country will be from free-range flocks.

The French Poultry Confederation (CFA) told La France Agricole its members were confused by the minister’s statement, as a number of retailers have already made public their ambitions to move to selling only free-range shell eggs. Monoprix stopped selling battery eggs in 2016. Carrefour had already undertaken to sell only free-range eggs in 2020, and Auchan’s target is 2025.

CFA added that it had been working with the ministry on a draft plan — apparently now overlooked — to produce half of French eggs by alternative methods to cages by 2022.  Furthermore, it said, many egg farmers are still repaying loans arising from the conversion of their farms from traditional battery cages prior to 2012.

The national committee for the promotion of eggs, CNPO, warned that an earlier switch to alternative production methods would force hundreds of French farmers out of business.

Interviewed on the Europe 1 program, “Grand rendez-vous,” Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert said the French government was honoring the commitment made by President Emmanuel Macron to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) a year ago — before he was elected to France’s highest office — that he would ban the sale of eggs from caged hens in France.

Travert said in the interview that it is impossible for all French egg producers to switch to free-range production, and so other systems would continue to produce eggs for processing.

In France currently, 69 percent of egg production is from birds housed in enriched cages, 6 percent from barns, 18 percent from free-range systems, and 7 percent are organic eggs.

Minister Travert announced last week details of the framework for an animal welfare plan (BEA) for France, aiming to bring the country’s initiatives on health and well-being of farm and laboratory animals and pets to European and international levels.

Among the 20 points in the BEA, Travert included a EUR4.3 million (US$5.3-million) project to develop methods of sexing embryos in the egg, more professional development for those who work with animals, encouraging alternatives for painful procedures, better monitoring in slaughterhouses, and better information for consumers on animal production methods.


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