Without going into all the details of their release, about the only accurate statement it contained was the need for commercial reality – something which we all accept but for major egg producers the bottom line is all that counts and to hell with consumers, farm sustainability or animal welfare.
Just to demolish a few points raised by AECL in an attempt to defend its position:
- 10 known national and international standards may have been considered in the process of developing this plan, but none of the standards we have seen allows anything approaching 20,000 hens per hectare to be called 'free range'.
- Independent and robust consumer research into understanding and expectations of consumers was in reality a matter of seeking opinions from people who do not normally buy free range eggs. It would be rather like Rolls Royce conducting a survey about consumer perceptions of luxury cars and asking members of the Holden Car Club.
- Australian egg farmers have been heavily criticised for the lack of universally recognised definitions for all methods of egg production. The heavy criticism hasn't been for that, it's been because of the misleading definitions approved by the AECL.