Thursday, June 16, 2011

Truth in Labelling for NSW?

New South Wales' Greens upper house member, Dr John Kaye has introduced his long awaited plan to define 'free range' and limit the consumer deception which is rife in the egg industry all over Australia.
His draft Truth in Labelling Bill sets a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 birds per hectare (in line with the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Poultry) and also bans the widespread practice of beak trimming birds which are claimed to be 'free range'.
Predictably, the Australian Egg Corporation doesn't like it because it wants to maintain and increase intensive production processes and allow major egg businesses to keep labelling their eggs as 'free range'.

AECL says:
'The draft, titled ‘Truth in Labelling (Free-range Eggs) Bill 2011’, would see free range hen densities reduced to unsustainable levels for a number of egg producers and would also ban legitimate forms of marketing for caged egg producers.
Despite the free range stocking densities suggested by Dr Kaye’s draft Bill representing levels that are currently farmed by some egg farmers, it dismisses the legitimate practices of others. While AECL firmly believes there needs to be a cap on the outside densities for free range production, the cap being suggested in the draft Bill is unsustainable and unrealistic. The commercial realities of free range egg production mean that the suggested low density in the draft Bill would result in the industry not meeting the current demand for free range eggs. AECL is to send a letter to MLC's and MLA's advising them of the consequences of the draft.'

The Egg Corporation is wrong. The stocking densities proposed in the Bill are clearly commercial as there are many free range egg farms currently operating to those standards. The stocking levels outlined in the Bill meet consumer expectations and hopefully buyers of free range eggs, as well as the many genuine free range farmers in New South Wales, will write or talk to their MLC's and MLA's urging them to support this Bill.
The NSW legislation could be the first step in a national definition of the term 'free range' if we can get the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Senator Joe Ludwig to make a decision.


Steve W said...

The second last sentence of the AECL quote says it all.
You can clearly see the AECL is more interested in having the standard low enough to fulfill the demand for "free range" eggs, than having it truly reflect the higher regard for the hen's welfare implicit in eggs produced by truly "free range" birds.

freeranger said...

That's exactly right. The Egg Corporation is simply to make it legal for a 'free range' label to be put a carton of eggs produced on an onensive farm. It's not about actually encouraging greater production of real free range eggs.