Friday, October 23, 2015

Changes to egg standards could force many small producers out of business

Genuine, small scale free range egg farmers may be forced out of business if Ministers for Fair Trading adopt some of the options being considered for the definition of 'free range' Here's a guidance document from Choice about New 'free range' standards. If adopted, the exclusions on pages 20 and 21 would make the exercise useless. The big boys will keep doing what they are now. Compliance costs for small producers will be enormous - at least an additional $2000 per farm per year and we will have to add information on our labels. Effectively, if the possible exclusions are allowed it will just enable major producers to keep conning consumers. Of the options presented, the best is Option 1. to maintain the status quo and allow the ACCC to continue prosecuting those producers who make false claims and mislabel their eggs. One helpful addition to that would be to ensure that penalties are applied to each breach – so that for a business selling a million dozen falsely labelled eggs, the fine should be multiplied by a million. By far the best choice for Ministers is to enshrine into law the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Domestic Poultry. That will provide clarity and certainty for the industry and consumers. Any definition needs to be simple and clear cut with measurable standards. Once variables and exclusions are introduced, loopholes are created which will be exploited in exactly the same way as currently happens. Unless the standards are simple to audit, the process will be extremely complex and costly. Submissions can be lodged on line at…/…/2015/Free-range-egg-labelling

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