Eilidh Whiteford


Whiteford Highlights Farmers' Frustrations In Commons Debate

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


As the implementation date for a new European Council Directive edges ever closer, SNP Member of Parliament for Banff & Buchan, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, has spoken out in the House of Commons on the inadequate legal framework to enforce the new Directive and protect Scottish farmers.

The Directive, which sets down minimum standards for improving the welfare of laying hens and prohibits the use of conventional ‘battery’ cages, is due to come into force on 1st January 2012.

Egg producers in Banff and Buchan have invested heavily in upgrading their facilities in line with the requirements of the Directive. However, it is clear that not all eggs produced in the EU will be compliant by the implementation date. This has led to concerns that ‘illegal’ eggs and egg products could find their way into the UK market, and undermine UK and Scottish farmers.

The SNP’s Dr Whiteford commented after speaking in a Westminster debate, attended by the UK Government Minister for Agriculture and Food:

“What has emerged from the debate today is that no powers exist for the EU or any member state to introduce a ban preventing non-complaint eggs from being traded.”

“It is incredible that we are powerless to stop illegally produced eggs from entering our country, when the producers of those eggs have had 12 years to bring their production up to standard.”

“I welcome the representations that have been made to the European Commission on this issue, and the steps taken by the UK and Scottish Governments to mitigate the worst effects of this Directive, but I share the frustration of farmers in my own constituency, and across Scotland, who will have their investment and their competitiveness undermined.”

“There has been a complete lack of foresight from the European Commission in failing to put enforcement measures in place for egg producers that did not comply with this Directive. The Commission and member states with compliant industries are now practically impotent to prevent the import of illegally produced eggs.

“Valuable lessons must be learned from this experience to ensure that we do not implement new European rules to see other EU members flout them with impunity."

Dr Whiteford had previously won assurances from the Chief Executives of Tesco, Morrisons and ASDA that none of their eggs or own-brand egg products would be sourced from non-compliant eggs.

European Council Directive 1999/74/EC will come into effect from 1 January 2012. The Directive sets down minimum standards for improving the welfare of laying hens and prohibits the use of conventional (‘battery’) cages.

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