Thursday, July 27, 2017
Big producers 'conned' politicians over 'free range' standard
A report by Melbourne University in the Journal of Rural Studies shows how big producers in the egg industry pushed politicians to agree to the definition of 'free range' that suited their intensive businesses. Australia’s egg industry was able to “capture” the development of the national information standard, ensuring that “free range” was legally defined as industrial-scale free range, with the tacit support of Australia’s two dominant retailers, who had already set standards for “free range” eggs, which underpinned the industry’s proposed definition. The new national standard may still be tested in court as it does not meet findings in previous decisions by Federal Court judges, and may also breach planning laws which treat intensive animal husbandry as feedlots. Consumer Ministers have egg on their faces over their 'free range' decision. Ministers for Consumer Affairs got it wrong when they allowed an intensive stocking density for free range egg production. The Model Code of Practice recommended a maximum outdoor density of 1500 hens per hectare but the Ministers approved a density of 10,000 hens without taking account of planning laws which treat intensive farming operations as feed lots with restrictive planning regulations. They also ignored rulings by Federal Court justices in cases of deceptive conduct over egg labelling. The issue could be taken to court for a ruling.