Euro-MP and Norfolk farmer’s fury at battery egg imports

Euro MP and Norfolk farmer Stuart Agnew has launched a campaign to ensure that only free-range eggs are sold in Britain from January.

He is furious that Europe will not ban sales of eggs from battery cages when Britain's farmers have invested �400m to comply with tough new welfare rules.

Mr Agnew, who is UKIP's spokesman on agriculture and also has 30,000 free-range laying hens near Fakenham, said that Europe has failed to enforce the battery cage ban in about five member states.

'I have had no choice but to launch this campaign after hearing at this late stage from the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, John Dalli, that the Commission itself is not going to rigorously enforce the ban, but merely send inspectors and threaten member states with fines.'

'British egg producers have invested over �400 million to meet the terms of the ban but many other EU countries haven't bothered.

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'To protect British egg producers and consumers from illegally produced eggs, I am stepping up pressure on supermarkets to ensure that they will not be sourcing battery produced eggs after January 1,' said Mr Agnew.

Five member states - Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Spain and Greece – have made no effort to comply with the battery cage ban.

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'I am also making sure that they are aware of the potential problem of illegal eggs coming into the country and/or being used in food products they are selling to British consumers,' said Mr Agnew, who is a former chairman of Norfolk National Farmers' Union.

'Fortunately, some consumers are waking up to the problem and, to date I have had nearly 400 emails on this one subject,' he added.

'This ban has been coming for 13 years and I am disgusted that the Commission has done so little to enforce it and, worse still, is prepared to stand idly by and allow British egg producers to effectively be penalised for complying with the (laying hens) directive.'

Mr Agnew has also written to the head offices of 22 supermarkets urging them to support British egg producers and protect consumers by only supplying legally produced eggs and food products that do not contain battery eggs.

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