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Poultry: Animal Welfare

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 129861, tabled on 25 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much funding he will allocate through the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway to support poultry farmers to transition to cage–free systems.

Answered on

23 March 2022

The UK Government is delivering a series of ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. We are actively exploring options to phase out the use of cages in farming, including the use of cages for laying hens. In coming to an assessment of the potential merits of banning cages for laying hens we will wish to consult all interested organisations.

Animal welfare is a devolved issue and we continue to work closely with our devolved counterparts when considering future policy.

The EU Commission announced its intention to bring forward legislative proposals by 2023 to prohibit the use of cages for all farmed livestock, including colony cages for laying hens. The Commission’s stated aim is to introduce legislation in 2027, but under pressure from some Member States we anticipate the phase in period for banning enriched cages may be several years. The EU’s programme of work will address many issues which we are already looking at, for example, cages for farmed animals and long journeys.

The UK Government has made a clear manifesto commitment that in all of our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. We will need to consider trade aspects of any ban to avoid the risk of exporting production of eggs for catering/processing to third countries which continue to allow enriched cages.

We are establishing an Animal Health and Welfare Pathway as an all-encompassing approach to the health and welfare of farmed animals in England. Establishing a new partnership between Government and farmers, the Pathway maps out how farmers and Government will work together to continually improve the health and welfare of farmed animals now and in the future. Farmers will be able to choose whether to take part in Pathway and may take flexible routes through the schemes available depending on what is most relevant to them and their system. As set out in the 22 nd February publication on the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, one of the Pathway's priorities will be to support a transition away from enriched cages for laying hens. At this stage, there has been no decision on allocation of funding.

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