Pledge over poultry rules

Farming minister Lord Rooker pledged yesterday to consider helping the poultry industry meet the £7m cost of complying with new environ-mental and pollution rules.

Farming minister Lord Rooker pledged yesterday to consider helping the poultry industry meet the £7m cost of complying with new environ-mental and pollution rules.

More than 100 poultry farmers met MPs at West-minister to press for a three-year waiver on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations, which come in on Wednesday.

Lord Rooker met Norfolk farmer Nigel Joice, who is regional chairman of the National Farmers' Union's poultry board, and NFU president Peter Kendall.

Mr Joice told Lord Rooker that the "industry is really very fragile . . . We told the minister about the real pressures on the industry. We have seen cost increases of between 35 and 40pc in the past 12 months and at the same time my income has fallen by 10.4pc. This is really unsustainable."

The new IPPC rules will cost all poultry farms which have more than 40,000 birds at least £6,000 in additional inspection charges, said the NFU.

Producers are furious because the Environment Agency is making an initial charge of £3,331 just to apply for the IPPC plus a further charge of between £2,229 to £2,794 for an annual fee.

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The NFU, the British Poultry Council and the British Egg Industry Council, want the permit charges and the annual subsistence fee to be waived for three years. The industry has estimated that the total inspection costs of the new regime would add between £7m and £8m a year for about 1,200 larger poultry producers.

Alex Butler-Zagni, of the NFU's regional office at Newmarket, joined the lobby with 15 East Anglian producers. After being addressed by Mr Kendall and the meeting with Lord Rooker, of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, farmers met their local MPs.

Mr Joice, of Uphouse Farm, Raynham, near Fakenham, who produces about 800,000 birds a year and is the national poultry farmer of the year, was pleased with Lord Rooker's response. "It was a very positive meeting," he added.

The NFU has warned that the cost of the IPPC rules will impact harshly on many medium-sized producers.

The industry is still reeling from the aftermath of the first outbreak of avian flu earlier this spring.

The government has a policy of full cost recovery for implementation and enforce-ment of the IPPC regulation, which comes into force from November 1. Applications must be made by January 31, 2007 and some 1200 businesses are set to be inspected.

The Environment Agency and the NFU are staging joint seminars next month - on November 9, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 21. To apply for a course place, please ring 08708 506 506.