Monday, June 28, 2010

Unreal 'free range' definition highlighted in Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

This is the article which apeared in today's SMH and The Age. More to come in the Weekly Times this week and we have done a few radio interiews.
The publicity will keep rolling until the AECL withdraws this ridiculous proposal. A few free range farmers have a meeting with AECL managing director, James Kellaway this Wednesday.

Objections raised over free-range eggs plan

June 28, 2010

CHANGING the definition of free-range eggs and lifting the maximum number of hens in an area would put Australia behind the rest of the world, critics say.
Discussions between the Australian Egg Corporation and farmers could see the maximum number of hens per hectare increase from 1500 to up to 20,000. A free-range farm the size of Centennial Park could have its hen population jump from 330,000 to 4.4 million.
Smaller farmers say the discussions unfairly favour large-scale producers.
''It will install a factory system for free-range eggs,'' Phil Westwood, a spokesman for the Free Range Farmers Association, said. ''To call it free range puts in the minds of consumers that the chooks are out in lush green grass and having a great time.''
NSW Greens MP John Kaye is drafting a bill to standardise the definition for free range. He said even at current densities, the behavioural patterns of chickens prevent all the hens from venturing out even if the door is open for eight hours a day and that increasing densities would only compound the problem.
The bill would also limit egg labelling to cage or free range.
''We don't buy the nonsense about barn-laid,'' Mr Kaye said. ''It's a euphemism of what happens to birds in high-stocking densities.''
Egg Corporation communications manager Jacqueline Baptista said a survey of consumers it conducted about hen densities found on average 10,200 per hectare was an acceptable population.
Nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed supported beak-trimming if it reduced pecking and cannibalism. Both the Greens and the FRFA reject beak-trimming on any grounds.
Mr Westwood urged the Egg Corporation to adopt a tiered labelling system that would prevent eggs produced in high-density environments from being labelled ''free range''. He said terms such as ''intensive free-range'' or ''cage-free'' would be more appropriate.

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