Ban all battery cages, says Green MEP Keith

JPMT 020412 MEP Keith Taylor left with owner Susie MacMillan, her father Peter and Sue Baumgardt ( right ) of Brighton Animal Action at Four Fields Farm, Ditchling. Photo by Derek Martin

JPMT 020412 MEP Keith Taylor left with owner Susie MacMillan, her father Peter and Sue Baumgardt ( right ) of Brighton Animal Action at Four Fields Farm, Ditchling. Photo by Derek Martin

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GREEN MEP Keith Taylor visited an organic free range egg farm in Ditchling and called for an end to the use of battery cages in the UK.

The MEP for Sussex and the South East was at Fourfields Farm to meet farmer Susie MacMillan and see her family farm which supplies more than 70,000 organic eggs a day to supermarkets and shops.

Mr Taylor commended the owners, the Mac family, on their high animal welfare standards and used his visit to the Dumbrells Court Road venue to urge a ban on all battery cage hens throughout the country.

He said: “It was great to visit this family farm and see at first hand how much space the hens are given.

“This farm is able to sustain an income from its eggs, while also allowing its hens to have a better quality of life and it shows there is no need to keep animals in cages.”

The MEP said that, as of January 1 this year, it became illegal to farm hens in barren battery cages anywhere in the EU. Yet people were unaware that so-called ‘enriched’ battery cages, which provided additions such as a perch and scratching area, were still allowed.

Mr Taylor said these were still cages that restricted hens’ natural behaviours and he opposed all kinds of intensive farming, believing these cages should also be outlawed as well.

The MEP, who visited Balcombe and Ardingly recently to support anti-fracking campaigners, said many farms in the EU had not improved welfare conditions despite the changes to welfare laws. He is now calling on the European Commission to impose fines and implement a trade ban to stop any eggs being exported from EU farms which have failed to upgrade.

Mr Taylor said: “Recent research carried out by the RSPCA found that 91 per cent of people in the South East of England had not heard about the new EU hen welfare law which came in this year and a quarter of people wrongly guessed that the new law will mean that all battery cages are banned or that all hens will be free range.”

Fourfields Farm is holding an open day on April 29 from 10am to 4pm when people can see the animal welfare standards for themselves. They will also be able to buy eggs.