The British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) is to meet members up and down the country to discuss solutions to what it describes as the “ongoing crisis” in the poultry sector.

BFREPA has said that contract reform, production cost data and avian influenza (bird flu) will be the main topics tackled at the meetings, which will take place this month, February and March.

Chief executive of BFREPA, Robert Gooch, said the aim of the meetings is to bring the industry even closer together in a bid to find ways in which the “dire situation farmers are facing” can be overcome.

“The turmoil experienced by the free range egg industry last year highlighted how important robust contracts and access to accurate data really are,” he said.

“An understanding of the costs of production is more essential than ever before, and should be the basis upon which new agreements with packers should be signed.

“We will be sharing our data and asking for feedback on how it can be improved to help farmers understand the risks and rewards.”

The meetings are open to both members and non-members and will take place in:

  • Diss (January 26);
  • Ardingly (February 1);
  • Exeter (February 2);
  • Shrewsbury (February 7);
  • Lincoln (February 16);
  • Milnthorpe (February 22);
  • Darlington (February 23);
  • Llandindrod Wells (March 2);
  • Lauder (March 8);
  • Inverurie (March 9).

Registering for the meetings can be done through the BFREPA website and the association said that Northern Ireland dates will be announced shortly.

Egg supply chain

The BFREPA costings are compiled independently by ADAS, a technical support company aimed at helping farmers improve farm productivity and efficiency.

Gooch said the association’s costings are increasingly being used by government, retailers and packers in monitoring the egg supply chain and in developing improved egg supply agreements.

“ADAS will present how it calculates these monthly figures and debate with members how they can be improved,” he said.

“Additionally, I will update members on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) informal review of contracts in the egg supply chain and recent progress on improving producer contracts.

“With the launch of a ‘bed and breakfast’ contract from one packer and more looking at cost of production contracts, BFREPA would like to hear from members on their preferred types of egg supply agreements.”

“Those egg producers who aren’t BFREPA members can find out more about the organisation and why they should consider joining – as an organisation, more members means an even stronger force for lobbying and industry support in the future.”