Monday, December 24, 2012

Keep pressure on the Egg Corp

The Australian Egg Corporation's decision to withdraw its application for a certification trade mark for its proposed Egg Standards Australia quality assurance program demonstrates that it knew the new standard would not be accepted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. It represents total victory for free range egg farmers across the country – as well as for consumers.

This is a huge win. If the new standard had been implemented it would have seen a growth in massive highly intensive egg farms with 20,000 hens per hectare becoming industry practice. The current maximum density accepted by the most in the industry and endorsed in the preliminary decision of the ACCC, is 1500 hens per hectare.

But AECL hasn't given up totally. It has started the process of registering a standard trademark for its Egg Standards Australia proposal which would allow it to side-step the ACCC as this type of trademark does not need ACCC approval.

Having conducted a major investigation into the egg industry, the ACCC is well placed to launch prosecutions of egg farms which practice misleading and deceptive conduct. Last week's announcement that Pepe's Ducks was fined $400,000 for claims of 'open range' sent shockwaves through major producers in the egg industry.

The AECL may now wait to see how the new Coles supermarket 'free range' standard of 10,000 hens per hectare (due to be launched in January) is accepted. That may become the industry benchmark unless there is a consumer backlash.

Queensland has been the only state to enforce standards for free range hens with a maximum stocking rate of 1,500 hens per hectare, but it is believed that the Queensland Government has bowed to pressure from the egg industry lobby and is about to change the regulation to allow a stocking density of 10,000 per hectare – in line with the Coles standard.

Friday, December 21, 2012

AECL backs down on its new high density standards

The Australian Egg Corporation has withdrawn its application for a certification trade mark for its failed Egg Standards Australia program. One AECL director has resigned - but many in the industry think that the whole Board should go and a restructure take place to properly represent the industry.
This is a great victory for free range egg farms across Australia.

Read the Egg Corp's statement here:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Massive fine for consumer deception

The Federal Court has ordered by consent that Pepe’s Ducks Ltd pay $375,000 in civil pecuniary penalties and $25,000 in costs arising from statements made that its ducks were ‘open range’ and ‘grown nature’s way’, in circumstances where the ducks were raised in barns and were not allowed to spend any time outdoors.

It is expected that similar action will start in the New Year against some of the intensive 'free range' egg farms which are filling up the supermarket shelves.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New fence finished at last !

A new security fence around a  1 hectare paddock.
We have been trying to get a fence erected in one of the paddocks which houses a mobile shed with 200 Isa Browns - now at last it is finished. The fence is quite tall at 1.5 metres and with 4 inch mesh should present a secure boundary for Lill (the Maremma guarding that flock) to patrol.

Unfortunately we had to bring in the wire from the US, because there was nothing like it on the market here in Australia. We have since discovered a vaguely simiar product here, but it is not as high and has smaller mesh.

We installed a 14 foot gate to allow easy for the mobile shed if we need to move it to a new paddock.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Intensive 'free range' farms in operation

Is this your idea of 'free range'.

Major egg laying facilities have been built and are under construction in Australia in the hope that the high stocking density proposals of Egg Standards Australia will be implemented. It never occurred to the major players in the industry who control the Australian Egg Corporation that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would knock back their proposal.

Have a look at this video promoting the aviary 'free range' system:
and this blurb which provides more detail.

Egg stamping now mandatory in SA

All South Australian eggs must now be stamped with a unique identification mark of their producers, providing consumers with a ready means of determining origin and aiding in traceability.
All egg producers selling eggs must comply with the new code, which covers eggs and egg products.
Producers with less than 50 chickens don't have to be accredited as long as they don't sell their eggs to food businesses or at farmers' markets. The majority of eggs will be stamped with "SA," followed by a number to identify the farm.
To gain accreditation, producers need to contact Bioecurity SA, adopt a food-safety statement, comply with the new standards and pay an annual fee. The fees start at $175 for up to 1,000 hens and rise to $650 for 1,000 to 9,999 hens. Higher charges apply for larger farms.
It's a pity that the Victorian Government has delayed the impementation of egg stamping here because it's a good way to combat egg substitution problems.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Hard to find real free range eggs

It's always been hard to find genuine free range eggs in Victoria but it is now even harder.

If your concept of 'free range' is that eggs are laid by hens that are not beak trimmed, that are run at a stocking density of 750 hens per hectare or less and that no manufactured colouring additives are allowed in the hens' feed – then you are up a gum tree unless you buy your eggs from us at Freeranger Eggs.

The only credible accreditation body which audited to those standards here in Victoria has relaxed its requirements.

It's a great disappointment to us, because we were proud to be part of an organisation which represented 'best practice' in free range egg farming in Australia, despite the big national push to allow intensive production methods. We will maintain the standards which our customers expect.