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Economy

Europe threatens crackdown on French battery hen farmers

media About 51 egg-laying chickens are kept in battery cages Reuters

The European Commission is to crack down on French farmers found guilty of mistreating battery hens. Legal action will be launched against France and 13 other countries in the next few days, according to health commissioner John Dalli.

“We will have zero tolerance for those who do not respect the law,” Dalli declared at a press conference in Brussels.

The countries in breach  of the battery hen law are:

  • France;
  • Hungary;
  • Italy;
  • Latvia;
  • Spain;
  • Greece;
  • Belgium;
  • Bulgaria;
  • Cyprus;
  • Poland;
  • Portugal;
  • Romania;
  • Slovakia;
  • The Netherlands.

France’s name has been added to an already existing list of 13 European Union member states who have failed to enforce a 1999 ban on detaining hens in battery cages, which are often no larger than a piece of A4 paper.

The deadline for compliance expired on 1 January 2012 and Dalli has promised to get tough on countries that have failed to enforce the law.

About 51 egg-laying chickens are kept in battery cages and the commission has obtained a list of farms that do not operate according to its standards.

The 1999 law stipulated that hens must be kept either in cages of at least 750 cm², or a nest, a perch or free range.

Farms found guilty of breaking the rules will not be allowed to sell their eggs to retail outlets or export them although they will be able to sell them to processed food companies.

Once he’s freed the hens, Dalli intends to tackle conditions on pig farms.

“Animal welfare is one of my top priorities,” he told journalists.

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