Friday, January 17, 2014

New voluntary 'free range' standard in US

There's a new voluntary standard for 'free range' egg production in the United States - but it is probably doomed like all the other schemes because it doesn't have teeth and is not backed by legislation.

The organisation Humane Farm Animal Care spent about two years developing a scientific basis for its new definitions. But did it really need to bother? What it came up with was little better better than the useless definitions used by by accreditation bodies here in Australia. It says 'Pasture Raised' means that the outdoor stocking density should be no more than 1500 hens per hectare (which is the density most free range producers in Australia say should be a maximum here for classification as free range).

But the discussion could be useful if politicians, bureaucrats and egg producers choose to listen and agree on legislation. We need full-on debate now that the Model Code is under review. Barnaby Joyce should take the opportunity to involve the industry and consumers in the process. What is needed is a definition that meets sustainable farming practices, production  realities, consumer expectations and animal welfare issues. Not hard to achieve as long as the vested interests of big business are not allowed to dominate the process as it has for years.

Details here:

No comments: