Euro cage ban tangle lands on UK desks UK egg producers are perplexed by the inconsistencies and ill conceived thinking of the European Parliament's decision to reform caged egg production. Proposals to ban cage egg production by the year 2012, now in the form of a directive, have been arriving in producers' post this week. "They've just banned cage egg production and haven't got anything better to put in its place," British Egg Industry Council chairman Andrew Parker told The Grocer. The proposals will allow so called enriched cages for laying hens, but as Parker pointed out, these do not answer any welfare concerns. There are two standards for barn systems, under which existing stocking densities of 12 birds/sq m will be derogated until 31 December 2011, but those opening new units will be obliged to stock at nine birds/sq m. "It's either right or it's wrong, but both standards can't be right at the same time. "Nor is there any exit for people wanting to leave egg production at the moment," added Parker. This has been offered elsewhere in the form of set aside or decommissioning grants for fishing vessels. NFU egg spokesman Paul Cooper is equally critical: "They've not even looked at it from a welfare point of view. They've just banned cages and haven't got anything better to put in its place." Enforcement across Europe is unlikely to be uniform, either. His biggest concern is that higher European costs will make the EU vulnerable to US imports. In the US, Wal-Mart sells trays of four dozen white eggs for £1.40. "We can't produce them here for that." While European costs can be expected to rise substantially, there is no sign that welfare costs will be taken into account in the next WTO round. Few want to take on US egg importers. {{PROVISIONS }}