Game bird code report suggests future problems for shooting industry.

Implementing DEFRA?s new game bird code will cost English game farmers as much as £6.6m in order to bring existing laying systems into line with the code, according to the Game Farmers? Association (GFA).

The GFA has published an initial assessment of the impact of the new code?s effect on game rearing.

It estimates that 43% of partridge and 6% of pheasant egg production will be hit.

It also believes the total annual cost arising from other new requirements will be in the order of £5.7million.

The figures relate to direct costs to game rearers, and the GFA emphasised that its report is provisional.

It invited all interested parties to comment so that a final impact assessment of the new changes can be made.

GFA chairman, Jonathan Crow, told Shooting Times magazine: ?The report shows the shooting industry facing massive problems next year with no welfare benefit, all arising from late changes made to the code without consultation. Whereas the draft code seen by the public was based on existing good practice and so would have had little impact, the final version laid before Parliament two weeks ago effectively bans not only raised laying systems but also affects many other aspects of game rearing. Further unnecessary costs will be imposed by involving vets in routine procedures and increasing the frequency of checking birds.?

He added that the code should now be withdrawn: ?You cannot impose new requirements like these on an industry without significant impacts. For the government to have done so without even consulting or costing the changes themselves is a complete disgrace.?

BASC, which has publicly supported DEFRA?s new code, was quick to attack the GFA?s provisional assessment point by point, claiming it was flawed and stating: ?The majority of figures in the GFA?s document are unreferenced and unsubstantiated. Therefore, the costings rest on very shaky foundations and should be treated with caution.?

BASC?s Simon Clarke reinforced the association?s belief that the code is a workable document: ?There is no justification for producing our pheasants from battery cages. DEFRA has presented a code of practice which is designed to give guidance on best practice. Shooting must be able to stand up and hold its head high, secure in the knowledge that we provide wild, healthy game birds. People who do not have contact with shooting will judge us by our actions, and not our words. Game meat is experiencing an unprecedented level of popularity. We should not risk that popularity by allowing battery farming conditions in our sport.?

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