Sunday, December 12, 2010

Survey of egg farmers to see what they think

The Free Range Farmers Association and the national body, Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia are currently surveying egg producers throughout Australia to see how many actually support the Australian Egg Corporation's plans to increase stocking densities.

Completed forms are starting to flow in from all over the country.

Undoubtedly many of the big producers will want the allowed stocking density to increase significantly, but there are many farmers (including some cage ones) who think that the proposed AECL standards are nonsense and will be a marketing disaster.

The brief survey only has two questions:
Do you believe the maximum free range stocking density should remain at 1500 birds per hectare?

If you believe permitted stocking densities should be increased what number do you suggest per hectare?

Participants are encouraged to make any additional comments.

Interestingly, Bede Burke, President of the NSW Farmers Federation egg group seems to have backed away from his support for the AECL draft standard following the Coles supermarkets announcement on pricing for its home brand 'free range' label. He said: "free-range producers expect the move will only drive down profitability, leading to free-range farms becoming intensive open-air factories.

Mr Burke said: "It looks all nice and populist for the consumer, but in reality it is encouraging cowboy operations."

"It’s already happening, Coles demand for free-range eggs is encouraging Mickey Mouse operations run with too many birds, in bad facilities.

"As a result, egg quality, freshness and food safety standards are being and will be compromised," Mr Burke said.

I agree totally with Bede Burke (there's a first).
When the ramifications of the AECL proposal sink in, there probably won't be too many egg producers supporting it - apart from Pace, Farm Pride, Sunny Queen etc.

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