Sunday, November 13, 2016
Government workshop on free range a waste of time
The Victorian Department of Agriculture appears to have lost the plot when it comes to free range farming. Agriculture Victoria is wasting money, holding a workshop in Wonthaggi tomorrow ( Monday), supposedly about free range egg farming. One problem is that notices about the workshop were only sent out a couple of days prior to the session. But a bigger problem is that the topics proposed to be covered did not deal with many of the issues vital for successful free range farming. Topics include presentations by staff of the Australian Egg Corporation and stock food company, Ridley Agriproducts. So the focus appeares to be on intensive production systems. No one at the workshop is scheduled to talk about extensive production. State Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has not responded to a request for clarification about the purpose of the workshop. Recent political decisions allowing intensive systems to be classified as 'free range' pose a serious threat to agricultural productivity. A laying hen produces half a cubic metre of manure a year. So with a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare approved by Ministers for Consumer Affairs earlier this year, farmers who follow their advice will see their land covered with 5000 cubic metres of manure per hectare every year. As chicken manure has the highest amount of nitrogen,phosphorus, and potassium of all manures, it will likely render the land useless for farming within a few years. Contamination of groundwater and water courses is also likely.