Ireland’s poultry retailers are urged to support the free-range sector as the country’s Department of Agriculture issued an order extending the housing of poultry until April 30.
Processors, producers and retailers in the egg and poultry sector can no longer use the free-range label after March 17.
Under EU regulations, eggs and poultry meat can marketed as free-range for the duration of the restriction but not for more than 12 weeks. In Ireland’s case, the 12-week period expires on March 17.
Ireland reported 12 cases of bird flu since December as wild birds migrated.
Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Poultry Chairman Nigel Renaghan said the retail sector must support the free-range sector during this difficult period by giving firm commitment that no reduction in price will be sought for poultry products produced from free-range poultry farms.
He has called on the retail sector to work with the processing industry and put in place alternative labelling arrangements that inform consumers of the situation and comply with marketing regulations.
“All free range production in Ireland come from small, independently-run family farms whose existence will be threatened if there is any reduction in the price they receive for their eggs or broilers,” Renaghan said.
“Any attempts to reduce the value of poultry products derived from free range farmers could have a detrimental effect on the long term sustainability of this important sector of Irish agriculture.”