By Aimee Mahony, NFU chief poultry adviser
Chairing the recent Pig and Poultry Fair egg outlook session was an honour and provided a chance to hear from industry leaders on the challenges and opportunities that we all face. An opening observation from one of the speakers that resonated with me was that ‘challenge is a seed of opportunity’.
Whilst the constant message we all hear is around the ability to adapt being the key to success, it’s important to recognise that finding the path to turn every challenge into an opportunity is not always as easy as it may look on paper. However, I together with the NFU’s national poultry board feel strongly that working collaboratively to tackle these challenges will earn the sector the benefits it’s seeking.
Every consumer of every budget expects bird welfare to be paramount and with this also being at the forefront for producers, we should be proud to showcase what we do. The need for greater transparency is crucial. In some areas we are unlikely to see monumental changes overnight so small steps in the right direction are key.
Politics and pandemics have dominated our lives for the last few years but what lies ahead? Climate change, net zero and environmental credentials are now reoccurring themes in nearly every conversation. Competition is currently fierce in the poultry industry, but in the climate change arena we require cooperation and commitment to make improvements for the sector, opposed to solely individual gains.
From a policy perspective, Defra’s recently launched Animal Action Plan included points on welfare at transport and slaughter as well as a requirement to explore the use of cages for laying hens in the UK. Together with the EU Commission’s spotlight on certain campaigns, this will no doubt mean this is something that remains high on the political agenda in the coming weeks and months. The NFU will remain engaged in conversations with Ministers on these topics and seek input from members to continue shaping future policy for the poultry sector.