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Irish cage egg grant scheme will take much time

Irish egg producers are unlikely to receive any cash until 2010, for €16 mln (£13.8 mln) grant scheme for replacing conventional cages.

It was recently reported that poultry producers in Ireland will receive €16 mln from the government to help them meet new welfare standards for producing eggs from the caged system, which will come into effect in 2012. But according to Owen Brooks, secretary of the Irish Egg Association, producers are unlikely to see any of the money until late 2010.

"There's still lots of work to be done and details to be filled in," said Brooks. "For a start, the scheme has to be given the go-ahead by Brussels, though I understand that won't be a problem. Then producers have to submit funding applications and have their projects approved, not just by the Department of Agriculture, but also by the planning authorities. All that will take time, and that's before the actual construction work starts."

The funding will not be applied retrospectively, but how it will be allocated has still to be decided, said Brooks.

More than 60% of Irish producers are still using conventional cages, which will be outlawed from 2012 under an EU Directive and the Irish Egg Association estimates that the conversion will cost the industry €40 mln (£34.5 mln).

Source: Farmers Weekly

Natalie Berkhout

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