The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, must look at the prospect of changing the legislation governing free-range or organic status for poultry as bird flu outbreaks continue, Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny has said.

Speaking in the Dail last week, the Sinn Fein Agriculture Spokesman said that the Minister must look at changing the legislation as after 12 weeks producers will lose their free-range or organic status.

Before Christmas, the Minister brought in regulations which meant that flock owners were required to confine all poultry and captive birds in their possession or under their control in a secure building to which wild birds, or other animals do not have access.

Deputy Kenny said he’s sure that everyone is aware of the situation in regard to Ireland’s poultry industry at the moment.

“There is an epidemic of bird flu at the moment and we’ve had six cases since December in Ireland and the issue that really comes to mind here, I think, is that there was an order that all commercial birds be kept indoors.

“Now that’s to protect them obviously from this situation. The difficulty that we come to is, that after 90 days under Irish legislation and European legislation, they lose their free-range status.

The legislation that’s there at present is not adequate to deal with the situation for the industry and there will have to be something done to protect the people in that industry.

“The only way for that to be done is for the legislation to be changed.”

At the time, the Minister for Agriculture was not present in the Dail chamber to respond to Deputy Kenny, so the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, told him that he would pass this query to the Minister for response.

Last week it was that Britain would lift its housing order on poultry who are not in high-risk situations, in order to ensure that the free-range or organic status is not lost to producers.