Friday, November 14, 2014
ACCC wrong to claim "no need' for a definitive free range standard
The consumer watchdog has declared there is ‘‘no need’’ for a free range egg standard in Australia,
But egg producers and consumer groups are helping to develop a standard with consumer Affairs Ministers in every
Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said producers should instead use commonsense and rely on court rulings to avoid misleading labelling.
‘‘Some have expressed concern there is no government standard that producers need to meet to be a free-range producer. We see no
need for any standard,’’ he said at an agricultural forum in Melbourne this week.
While I understand his position, I believe he is wrong. There is far more to the definition of free range egg production than animal welfare issues. On our farm we have a three pillars approach, with food safety, land sustainability and asnimasl welfasre taking equal positions. There is considerabl;e pressure from the corporate sector of the industry - as well as the Federal, Queensland and Victorian agriculture ministers not to define stocking densitiers. There is a push thatif that an outdoor density is defined, it should be the major supermarkets version of 10,000 hens per hectare instead of the 1500 per hectare allowed in the current Model Code.
Unless a maximum outdoor density of 1500 per hectare is adopted by Ministers, then Rod Sims is right - don't bother with a national standard because the big players will simply maintain their intensive production systems.