Poultry farmers will march on the Houses of Parliament next week to highlight frustration with the soaring cost of red tape.
They are asking for a three-year moratorium on charges related to new pollution controls set to cost them £5m this year alone.
Charles Bourns, chairman of the NFU's poultry board, said farmers could not afford to pay after being financially hit by avian flu this year. "Wholesale prices fell to 28p/kg and retailers have only just stopped discounting. If we have to pay now, we're going to see people getting out of the business, while new sheds won't go up in time."
The farmers will come to London on Wednesday (25 October) where they plan to meet their MPs. Meanwhile the NFU is raising its concerns with environment secretary David Miliband.
The protest centres on the charges made by the Environment Agency for inspecting farms for compliance with the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control rules, which come in next year. Poultry farmers have to pay £3,331 this year to sign up for a permit and about £2,500 every year for the actual inspection. It will have cost them £10m by 2009 on top of the estimated £14m a year required to bring farms up to standards.
Bourns stressed that farmers were not objecting to the IPPC itself. "I'm not saying no-one should pay the Environment Agency, but just this once we're asking for a little help. I'd be happy to stand up in front of any taxpayer and say that."
Peter Bradnock of the British Poultry Council said Defra had got its sums wrong on IPPC by not including compliance costs.
The government has given its critics short shrift. A spokesman said: "These installations have the potential for major pollution. It is unreasonable of the industry to expect taxpayers to cover the cost of regulating pollution that they produce."