Bird flu indoor rule hits free range egg farmer incomes


Hundreds of egg producers can no longer sell their eggs as being free range from today, because their hens are no longer allowed outside, due to the bird flu epidemic.

Under EU rules, eggs cannot be classified as free range if the birds have been indoors for 16 weeks, and that deadline was reached on Wednesday. Free range eggs are more expensive than barn or battery eggs, and that means farmers’ incomes will be hit.

Farmers’ lobby group LTO Nederland says the difference could be around €5,000 a week.

Supermarkets Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Lidl and Plus have told broadcaster NOS they will continue to pay farmers the free range price, as they did during the last bird flu epidemic. But that is not the case for egg exports, NOS said.

The LTO wants Europe to change the rules so that free range egg producers face the same rules as organic egg farmers. In the organic egg sector, hens are supposed to be able to spend one third of their lives outdoors.

Free range eggs are stamped with a number starting with a 1, barn eggs with a 2.

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