Saturday, October 30, 2010

'Free Range' research

The egg industry is still in turmoil over proposals by big producers to push the Australian Egg Corporation into changing the standards for 'free range' egg production. The chairman of the Australian Egg Corporation, Jeff Ironside, said in a letter to the Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia Inc. that the draft standard had been prepared after 'reviewing 13 international standards and benchmarking current practice in Australia'.

What he failed to add was that none of the standards reviewed by AECL reflected the ludicrous stocking density of up to 20,000 chickens per hectare which it proposed. So, in effect, AECL ignored all the international standards and came up with a scheme which the corporate players wanted.

Make no mistake, eggs are big business and the big end of town wants to make a killing. They can see huge profits in being able to label their eggs as 'free range' without having to do the work associated with running free range flocks.

Mr Ironside also had comments to make on the validity of the consumer survey conducted by the Free Range Farmers Association. He said that AECL's market research consultants found that the research undertaken by FRFA 'cannot be considered as an accurate research exercise'.

Funny that. Free Range Farmers don't think that the survey conducted for the AECL is accurate either.

The difference is that we asked people who actually buy free range eggs what they thought, whereas AECL pulled in anyone to get the result they wanted.

And even worse than that. We gave AECL our research data so they could analyse it. AECL undertook to give us their data – but we are still waiting four months after it was promised. They obviously have a great deal to hide and don't want any scrutiny of their research.

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