EU farming laws could see the price of an average supermarket chicken soar to nearly £20, a leading critic of the policy has claimed.
The European Commission has proposed revisions to animal welfare laws that would require companies committed to raising chickens cut the surface areas of their farms by up to 30 per cent.
Additional modifications floated by officials include eliminating the use of cages in commercial animal meat production, including rabbit, pork and chicken.
The proposed changes were welcomed as a pillar of the EU’s “animal welfare revolution” when they were introduced in 2021, but two years later, they are in peril following industry backlash.
Farmers operating within the union have warned that implementing the plans would push chicken prices in Spain, where welfare rules are among the strictest, to between 15 and 20 Euros.
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Spanish farmers have warned the proposed measures would impact production costs and ultimately raise the price of commercial meats for consumers.
The new regulations reducing farm size would require farmers to also reduce the density, with the EU requiring member states to enforce an 11kg per square metre rule, a third of the current 33kg per square metre requirement.
In Spain, a report from the Coordinator of Farmers and Livestock Organizations (COAG) has warned the required density reduction would force farmers to construct 70 per cent more warehouses to produce the same amount of meat.
The additional cost could reach €1 million (£872,000) for poultry farmers, more than €500,000 (£436,262) for pig farmers, and could prove near-fatal for the nation’s rabbit farms.
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Eloy Ureña, head of the COAG poultry sector, said the financial impact on farmers would cause many to retire, resulting in reduced production and, ultimately less poultry on the market.
He said: “A chicken weighing 2 or 2.5 kilos will cost between 15 and 20 euros (£13 to £17) if the revised animal welfare regulations proposed by the EU are applied.”
Mr Ureña warned the EU would ask poultry producers in farms while the number of birds “will have to be reduced by 72 per cent”.
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Avianza, the Interprofessional Association of Poultry Meat, has issued a similar warning.
The organisation has warned the changes could make chicken a “luxury product” for Spanish residents and even cause the poultry sector to “disappear”.
The European Commission has said preparatory work for the legislation is “ongoing”, and that it would cover the “welfare of animals at farm level, during transport, at the time of killing”, and “establish a voluntary European label for animal welfare”.
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