‘Urgent government and supply chain action is needed to support Welsh poultry businesses amid soaring production costs and the threat of Avian Influenza’. That was the resounding message coming from concerned poultry farmers at the NFU Cymru Poultry Conference, sponsored by Wynnstay, in Llandrindod Wells, Powys this week.

Around 100 poultry farmers attended the NFU Cymru event to hear from a range of industry speakers about the crisis gripping the sector. Among those addressing members was NFU Cymru Poultry Chair, Richard Williams and Welsh Government Interim Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales Gavin Watkins.

Members at the meeting expressed their serious concerns for the impact that severe energy price inflation, hikes in feed costs and the worst ever UK outbreak of Avian Influenza were taking on their businesses and their families. Many stated that their businesses would not be able to continue to swallow rising costs.

Following the meeting, NFU Cymru has written to the Welsh Government Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths MS, stressing that immediate action is needed to support Welsh poultry businesses in the wake of the unprecedented challenges they face.

The union has called upon the Minister to immediately introduce all-Wales poultry housing measures to help protect commercial flocks against Avian Influenza.

NFU Cymru is also urging the Minister to use the powers under the UK Agriculture Act 2020 to investigate whether an ‘exceptional market conditions’ declaration should be made, given the severe market disruption which egg producers and UK consumers are experiencing. Such a declaration would enable Welsh Government to use its statutory powers to provide much needed support to egg producers whose livelihoods are under threat.

NFU Cymru Poultry Group Chair Richard Williams said: “The record turnout at this meeting was testimony to the strength of concern among Welsh poultry farmers at present. The feeling of frustration and fear was palpable, with many members expressing that the impact of rising input costs affecting production and the continued risk of Avian Influenza are causing untold stress and worry.

“The union has been engaged in meetings with government, retailers and food businesses over the crisis impacting poultry producers and the need for these current supply chain issues to be addressed without delay.

“Farmers present at the conference were adamant that Welsh Government should follow the action taken in England and introduce a housing order to protect commercial flocks in Wales. If the introduction of housing measures saves just one farming family from facing the devastating impact of the disease, it will be worth it.”

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “NFU Cymru fully understands the pressure that Welsh poultry businesses are exposed to at present. The union is exploring all avenues and levers at its disposal to help resolve this situation, including conversations with retailers and calling on the government to look in detail at the current supply chain issues.

“NFU Cymru has also written to the Welsh Government Minister for Rural Affairs with a number of urgent actions that we believe can help to alleviate some of the immediate pressures our poultry members are experiencing at present.

“Finally, I’d like to assure shoppers that, despite the scale of this crisis, Welsh producers continue to produce healthy, nutritious and affordable eggs and poultry meat, products we know are highly valued by our consumers.

“Poultry and egg producers must have the confidence they need, working within a fair and transparent supply chain, ensuring fair returns so they can do what they do best; meet demand from shoppers for quality Welsh eggs and poultry meat.”

The line-up of speakers at the NFU Cymru Poultry Conference, sponsored by Wynnstay, included NFU Poultry Adviser Tom Glen, NFU Poultry Chairman James Mottershead, Welsh Government Interim Chief Veterinary Officer Gavin Watkins, Julian Sparry of Livetec Systems and Jim Turner, Wynnstay Poultry Product Manager.