Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Egg Corp stumbles on

A report by Les White in today's Weekly Times says:
THE Australian Egg Corporation has reneged on an agreement to release consumer research paid for with farmer levies, free range egg producers claim.

The research forms the basis of the AEC’s controversial new proposed standards, which allow "beak trimming" and stocking densities of 20,000 hens a hectare.

The Free Range Farmers Association plans to ask newly-elected Greens MP Adam Bandt to present a petition bearing 3500 signatures to parliament in an attempt to keep standards the same. The Greens have pledged to create a legal definition of "free range", which the major parties have failed to do.

It has already written to new Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig asking him to redirect levies from freerange eggs to free-range associations rather than to the AEC.

The AEC said in June: "Cage production systems offer greater safety to hens from disease, parasites, cannibalism and predator attack than free-range did".

AEC spokeswoman Jacqueline Baptista said the corporation would not comply with the FRFA’s request until it received "the final report on the research’’.

Asked why it had released proposed standards without having received the final report, she said: "We don’t want to sit on our hands".

Ms Baptista said some free-range producers were "very supportive" of the changes in the proposed new standards, but could not name them as opinions had been collected anonymously.

"The data I have is that the free-range producers who have been very vocal represent about 0.075 per cent of the (egg) industry," Ms Baptista said.

The Egg Corp figures are very rubbery because many egg producers cannot be bothered to join the AECL or send them any data - however, there is no doubt that genuine free range producers are a tiny minority. Which demonstrates that even with AECL's current standards, most consumers are not getting what they think they are paying for. The only way buyers in Victoria can be sure that the eggs they buy really are free range is to look for the logo of the Free Range Farmers Association.
We have sent the results of our consumer suvey to the Egg Corporation and to the New Minister for Agriculture, Senator Joe Ludwig and advised him that the Egg Corportation plans would mislead consumers.

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