Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Farmers' markets losing their attraction in Victoria

Farmers' Markets seem to be losing their attraction in Victoria – probably because too many are now operating. In the early days they were great vehicles for selling farm produce, but recently buyers have been put off by seeing markets spring up all over the place, often with the same stallholders.The Department of Regional Development Victoria has spent millions of taxpayers dollars in providing seeding grants for new markets which have sprung up like topsy. Producers are rebelling against exorbitant fees charged by some market managers. As a result of declining market sales, we no longer sell at farmers' markets. Churchill Island was our last farmers market and when we complained that the new market managers were less than competent and needed to learn communication and marketing skills , they had a tantrum and banished us from the market. Didn't really matter because we were only waiting until after Easter to see if there was any prospect of improvement. We work on the basis that stall fees should be no more than 10% of the value of sales at a market. At $55 per stall, Churchill Island was not viable for most of the year. Extra markets held over the holiday period at Christmas and throughout January helped to make up the shortfall in the past. But with the change in management this year, the summer markets have not attracted customers in the numbers required – because the lack of promotion meant that few people knew that the extra markets were being held.With egg production running at a lay rate of over 90%, we need consistent sales and at a $55 stall fee, supplying shops and restaurants together with farm gate sales is more viable than attending markets.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Global Food Forum and food security We are all a part of the environment not apart from it

Ever more intensive agriculture seems to be the mantra for global food production. But the threat to food security increases in direct proportion to the scale of the production system. For example, outbreaks of avian influenza involving intensive poultry farms has caused serious egg supply problems in various parts of the world. A Global Food Forum is being held at Crown Casino in Melboune on March 28 and food security should be high on the agenda. Freeranger eggs believes that food security is better achieved by encouraging networks of small-scale, sustainable farming enterprises rather than large industrial projects with negative environmental impacts. Every village or township around the world could be supplied by its own egg farm as well as suitable crop production. There is a huge untapped demand from consumers for eggs To help meet this shortage, crowd funding is being sought by Freeranger Eggs  to develop webinars, providing practical advice to help people establish free range farms which meet consumer expectations, without having to travel for hours to a farm workshop The webinars, together with an eBook will provide all the tools needed to set up a successful free range egg business.  gofundme.com/2tar52c

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A busy month selling eggs

We are now at our busiest time of the year, with holidaymakers descending on Phillip Island, one of Australia's premier holiday destinations. It means that all the shops and restaurants which we supply with eggs need more. And our regular farmers market at Churchill Island (just off Phillip Island) is now held every week until the end of January.
At this time of year its always hard balancing production and sales. The hens don't lay more eggs just because it's holiday time. We always try to meet demand by running an extra flock of Isa Browns at this time of year.It increases the workload but as long as markets hold up, there is a good result.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

South Korean export opportunity for an egg farmer

A South Korean trading group is seeking to import regular supplies of eggs from Australia They would like shipments of 20 containers of 40ft filled with 50 – 60 gram eggs, however initial trials would be ok to start with 1-2 40ft containers. Get in touch with us if you are able to supply and want to get into exporting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Brits take strong stand against egg producers who break the rules

The British Government seems determined to clean up the egg industry there – unlike our politicians in Australia who are happy to let unscrupulous producers get away with conning the public. The chief executive of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association,Robert Gooch has warned that free range producers should ensure that they remain within the rules.“It is important for the image of the industry that we follow not only the rules set down in legislation but also the rules of the accreditation schemes. Otherwise it gives consumers a right to be concerned about the standards of free range” he said. The EU limits the outdoor stocking density on free range farms to 2500 hens per hectare and the Government is launching prosecutions against producers who ignore that limit. Here, our Ministers for Consumer Affairs capitulated to major producers and gave them what they wanted, allowing a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare. Now the only hope for consumers and genuine free range farmers is that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will continue to prosecute producers who breach standards established by Federal Court justices.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

ACCC may ignore Ministers' new 'Free Range' standard

Great news for free range egg farmers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is ignoring the intensive 'free range' egg standard approved by Ministers for Consumer Affairs and may press ahead with prosecutions against producers who breach the standards identified in Federal Court decisions. In its Enforcement Guidance for the egg industry on Free Range claims, it says “use of the descriptor ‘free range’ requires, at least, that the hens are able to move about freely on an open range on most days, and that most of the hens do so. the ACCC rejects claims by some that it is OK to tell consumers that the eggs are from free range hens when the outdoor range is not regularly used by the hens because the farming practices are such that the hens stay indoors all or most of the time. Producers do not have to use the label ‘free range’. Producers choose to describe their eggs as free range to promote their products and consumers are generally willing to pay a premium for free range eggs. it is open to producers to market their eggs under different labels, such as barn-laid or cage-free, where their practices do not meet consumer expectations for free range.” It's a pity the Ministers for Consumer Affairs and the federal Small Business Minister are too dumb to understand the problem.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Carbon pollution back on the agenda

It seems that the Australian Government has finally recognised the need to reign-in carbon pollution and is looking for ways to meet its targets. Some businesses have been addressing this issue for a while. Freeranger Eggs at Grantville, near Phillip Island is an example of sustainable farming. The farm management plan takes a three pillars approach to how the farm operates. Animal welfare is one pillar, but equally important are land sustainability and food safety. Despite all the political bickering in Canberra over emissions trading scheme targets, Freeranger Eggs has been getting on with mitigating the impact of carbon emissions. The farm's carbon footprint is limited by imposing a food miles policy for deliveries, using recycled materials and equipment whenever possible, utilising solar power and mechanical processes and an effective waste reduction programme. As a result, the 1500-chook farm generates only about 60 tonnes of CO2 each year. But it is better than carbon neutral, it is carbon positive. The average organic matter in soil tests was 4.1 per cent in 2004, in 2006 it was 6.0 per cent, and in 2009 it was 7.9 percent. Calculations based on 2-inch deep samples, show that over those five years the farm sequestered about 14 tons of CO2 per acre or four tonnes of carbon per acre on the grasslands. Further testing and calculations have not been carried because there has been a total lack of interest in the results.
The farm applies no chemical fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides and this policy increases the biological life in the soil and increases the rate of carbon sequestration. Rotational grazing is practised on the pastures – taking advantage of photosynthesis to pull CO2 into the plants and then into the roots from where it transfers to the soil. In addition, every year at least another tonne of CO2 per acre continues to be sequestered by the regular growth and replacement of Kangaroo Apples in the main paddocks. Native vegetation has been protected on approximately 100 acres of the property and regeneration there sequesters a further tonne of CO2 per acre. This brings a grand total of 1500 tonnes of CO2 sequestered on this property over five years – an average rate of 300 tonnes per year compared with the farm's carbon output of around 60 tonnes. On days of full sun the solar panels on the farm shed generate 13 - 17kW of electricity a day and as on average the farm consumes just 9kW a day it helps the bottom line. Freeranger Eggs gained international recognition in 2012 as the Australian winner of the International Energy Globe Award. In keeping with its food miles policy, eggs from the farm are only delivered locally. One of the farm’s main outlets is the Churchill Island Farmers’ Market – the next one is on Christmas Eve, so even though there is plenty more to do, it is hoped that customers take the trip down to Churchill Island.