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Lawmakers urge friendly farming environment for egg-laying hens

02/22/2024 09:44 PM
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Lawmakers hold lanterns decorated with the image of a hen during a news conference in the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Thursday. CNA photo Feb. 22, 2024
Lawmakers hold lanterns decorated with the image of a hen during a news conference in the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Thursday. CNA photo Feb. 22, 2024

Taipei, Feb. 22 (CNA) A group of lawmakers from across party lines called Thursday for speedier government efforts to build a friendly environment in which to farm egg-laying hens in Taiwan, citing the findings of a recent report on progress made in assisting the industry shift to cage-free farming across Asia.

Taiwan ranked sixth out of 17 countries surveyed in the report by Open Wing Alliance, a global coalition of 100 organizations spanning 72 countries, when evaluated in 31 indexes on three key pillars -- ending the use of cages, policy framework and welfare standards.

Taiwan scored 29 from 140 points, trailing New Zealand, Israel, Australia, Bhutan and South Korea, according to figures published at a news conference hosted by lawmakers alongside members of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST).

Attending legislators included Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Wang Yu-min (王育敏) from the Kuomintang, and Chen Gau-tzu (陳昭姿) and Chang Chi-kai (張啟楷) from the Taiwan People's Party.

The lawmakers said Taiwan has made no progress in phasing out battery cages in the farming of egg-laying chickens and urged the government to come up with effective measures as soon as possible.

Lin urged the government to help egg farmers upgrade their production model before transitioning to animal-friendly husbandry and encouraging more young people to join the industry.

At the same time, a policy should be mapped out to help cooperative egg farmers gain access to land and loans, she suggested.

Based on the report, Wang said, hens raised cage-free lay more eggs and require less veterinary medications than those confined in cages.

It is critical to support a cage-free policy to achieve sustainability in terms of reducing pollution and boosting recycling, Wang said.

For his part, Chang said a hen in Taiwan lays an average of 0.52 eggs per day, lower than 0.81 in Canada, 0.8 in Japan and 0.78 in the United States.

Animal-friendly policies are key to the issue as hens farmed in a healthy environment are capable of increasing production and laying more fine-quality eggs, Chang said.

EAST official Chune Fang-chu (寸舫筑) said Taiwan lacks clear-cut policies to provide benefits or subsidies to egg farmers, causing them to delay in upgrading their farming practices.

Against such a background, Chune said they are calling for a five-in-one policy that includes measures to prevent bird flu, hen-friendly harming, stabilizing egg distribution networks, encouraging youth to participate in egg farming, and reducing air pollution caused by chicken droppings.

In response, Ministry of Agriculture official Chen Chung-hsing (陳中興) told the news conference that regulations were modified last year to provide subsides for the poultry industry to boost production and tackle the impact of an egg shortage.

Also, as much as NT$50 million in low-interest loans can be granted per case to farmers who adopt an animal-friendly egg production model, Chen noted.

In addition, central and local government authorities are cooperating on legislation to help farmers acquire land or build and renovate poultry facilities more easily, among other efforts, Chen said.

(By Flor Wang and Lin Ching-yin)

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