Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Legislation for egg stamping and food safety issues are a washout

The new regulations for egg farmers look like they are a dismal failure as they were intended to help protect consumers and provide traceability of all eggs back to the farm on which they were produced. The industry broadly supported the proposal drawn by by FSANZ (Food Safety Australia and New Zealand, but the legislation was writen separately in each state. Here in Victoria, some people who sell eggs have not bothered to register with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and they are not stamping the eggs they produce with a farm identification number. They claim there is a loophole in the regulations which came into effect in November. They say that as they have 50 chooks or less, they don't need to register and are not required to stamp their eggs or comply with food safety standards.
It's just another example of bureaucratic stupidity. In the interests of the health of the community and traceability, the new regulations should apply to everyone who sells eggs. They should either apply to all egg producers, or none of us. It is simply not fair on those in the industry who meet the costs of complying with regulations when some sellers at markets or retail stores are allowed to flout them. It's not a small thing. While individual backyarders might only sell 20 dozen or so each week,  Throughout Australia, at least 100,000 dozen eggs each year are produced in  backyard operations and sold to unsuspecting consumers at markets or retail outlets. These producers have no understanding of the need for temperature control or other food safety requirements. Often they use secondhand cartons and do not meet labelling standards.

Another issue with egg stamping is that the legislation does not ensure that eggs are stamped on-farm. The stamping can be carried on a grading floor - which means that almost any stamp can be put on the eggs if they are sent to a grading floor for packing. This make a mockery of traceability claims.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It's becomming clearer that MH 370 was shot down by the US

After months of fruitless searching it is emerging that in all probability, Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 didn't just fall out of the sky - it was shot down by the US military. This puts Australia's Prime Minister in a difficult position.; Does Tony Abbotthave the guts to threaten to'shirt-front' Barack Obama? And will he demand that the US reimburses Australian taxpayers for the costs involved in the extensive sea search for MH370?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Myths about eggs

The widespread concern over the definition of 'free range' will be sorted out when the ACCC has taken a few more big egg producers to court for their deceptive practices, and State Ministers for Fair Trading have finally established a legal standard for what constitutes a free range egg.  Genuine producers in the industry have followed the Model Code which sets a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare and prohibits beak trimming as a matter of course. Hopefully it will all be done and dusted by April.  Even when a definition is finally agreed the crooks will still try to find ways around the regulations.
But there are other issues too. There are so many myths around eggs some of which we have dealt with on a new page on our website: http://www.freeranger.com.au/myths-about-eggs.html

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chinese egg exports to Australia?

China is the world’s largest grower of egg laying hens and has been the largest producer of eggs for the last 28 years.

It has a massive volume of egg exports – around 260 million a year value at around $15 million. Many of those eggs go to the United States, but given the new trade deal signed between China and Australia, some of that volume could be heading here.

In an effort to stabilize egg prices by increasing liquidity and promote stable development in the egg industry, the China Securities Regulatory Commission endorsed the Dalian Commodity Exchange to initiate egg futures trading. The first egg futures traded in November 2013.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Farm gate sales

We are now offering eggs to customers at the farm gate. We have set up a large cool box just inside the front gate. So even though we have a biosecurity sign on the gate advising 'no unauthorised entry'. It's OK to enter just to buy eggs - as long as people don't proceed any further.
Farm gate sales are a growing part of our business
Demand has been increasing steadily with growing revelations from the ACCC about the  consumer deception organised by major egg businesses. As a result of their actions, consumers no longer trust labels and logos. Consumer interest is widespread in what is happening. Our Facebook 'likes' topped 1000 today  - largely driven by media reports of the industry scam.  Thank you Australian Egg Corporation Ltd. If you wish to like our facebook page, visit us at  https://www.facebook.com/FreerangerEggs
Apart from gate sales, our eggs are available at Angel's Health Foods, Cowes, Corinella General Store and Farmers Markets at Churchill Island on the fourth Saturday every month and The Old Cheese Factory at Berwick on the second Saturday.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Using Hydrogen from water as a power source

Hydro Infra Technologies (HIT), a Swedish company based in Stockholm, has developed a patent pending approach for neutralizing carbon fuel emissions by generating a gas it c alls Hydro Nano Gas (HNG).

In spite of all the happening in the energy sector, global economies still depend on fossil fuels for transport , power generation etc. The cost of completely replacing fossil fuels with more sustainable options is a challenge even for the richest nations.

This in turn effects the climate change scenario which has been continuously increasing as more pollution and green house gases are created from burning fossil fuels on a daily basis.

This requires a, cost effective solution; and maybe HIT’s Hydro Nano Gas is an answer.

On the farm, we have been looking at running our delivery vehicle on water – but without success.

Water contains 2 basic elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen. These elements can be split, divided and utilized. Splitting water (H2O) is a known science. But the energy costs of splitting outweigh the energy created from hydrogen when the Hydrogen is split from the water molecule.

HIT says it has found a way to split water in an energy efficient manner to extract a high yield of Hydrogen at a low cost.

The process of creating HNG involves pulsing a range of low energy frequencies into water. The pulsing treatment effectively manipulates the molecules to line up for the splitting process. The result is HNG.

The gas displays some different properties from normal hydrogen. For instance: HNG seems to neutralizes carbon fuel pollution emissions; HNG can be pressurized up to 2 bars; HNG combusts at a rate of 9000 meters per second while normal Hydrogen combusts at a rate 600 meters per second; oxygen values actually increase when HNG is inserted into a diesel flame; and finally, HNG acts like a vortex on fossil fuel emissions causing the flame to be pulled into the centre thus concentrating the heat and combustion properties.

Injecting HNG into a combustion chamber produces several effects that increase the burn efficiency of the fuels. HNG gasification effectively burns unburned residue and completes the burn process quicker. This could have long term benefits with the on going economic-climate change debate.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Shonky egg farms on the run

It's way past time for  big businesses involved in the Australian egg industry to wake up and stop their deceptive practices designed to bolster profits by labelling eggs from their intensive 'farms' as free range - and charging a premium.
The industry has known for years that this has been going on but politicians and bureacrats have refused to take action - sticking to supporting their mates and allowing industry 'self-regulation'.
Now that is suddenly coming to a halt with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission taking on the big operators in the Federal Court.
Yet another egg farm is going to have to defend action in the Federal Court over claims by the ACCC that it has committed serious breaches of Consumer Law. The ACCC says Darling Downs Fresh Eggs, which is based in Queensland, labelled their products as “free range” between 31 December 2013 and 6 October 2014 when the hens had in fact never had access to the outdoors.Darling Downs Fresh Eggs is just the latest in a string of egg producers to face court action for misleading claims. Many more are expected to be put through the wringer.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said  consumers deserved to know if what they are buying is in fact free range.
“The ACCC considers ‘free range’ eggs to mean that the laying hens can and do go outside and move around freely on an open range on most days,”
He said.“The ACCC considers that the alleged misrepresentations in this case are particularly serious, because it is the ACCC’s case that the Darling Downs Fresh Eggs hens were never given outdoor access.”

Now is an appropriate time for heads to role at the Australian Egg Corporation which has encouraged the long term deception of consumers. It claims to act for the whole of Australia's egg industry - but in reality it works against the interests of free range producers even though they provide funding to AECL through levy payments on every hen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Eco Eggs in court over 'free range' claims

It seems that the big players in Australia's egg industry still don't recognise that their days of conning consumers are over. The latest big operators to face court over false 'free range' claims are the Port Stephens companies behind the Eco Eggs brand which is sold in major supermarkets across Australia.

As with Pirovic Enterprises which was fined $300,000 for false labelling, Eco Eggs hasn't being doing anything differently from dozens of other major egg producers who have set up their businesses to meet the standards endorsed by the Australian Egg Corporation. Eco Eggs realised that they were doing something wrong when Choice presented them with a Shonky Award in 2013.  Big operators should have seen the writing on the wall - but the lure of the huge dollars to be made out of their dodgy labels blinded them to the reality of their position.  The ACCC just has to walk around the major supermarkets to take to court just about every  business behind  eggs labelled as free range.d It will be easy pickings for them.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Egg stamping results in more honesty in the industry

The introduction of compulsory egg stamping is starting to bring the crooks out of the woodwork. At least one stallholder at markets accredited by the Victorian Farmers' Markets Association is now admitting  that some of the eggs he sells are bought from others. He has now chosen to reveal this on his Facebook page even though he has been re-selling eggs for years. At last he is being honest with his customers. The Victorian Farmers Markets' Association claims that re-sellers are banned from its accredited markets - but it has consistently turned a blind eye. The accreditation process needs to be balanced  and fair if the VFMA is to survive.
We also had a call yesterday from a 'backyarder' on Phillip Island asking if he could buy 20 dozen eggs. He said that he was going to on-sell them so he wanted them unstamped. I told him to go away!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Effective industry standards and regulations may be on the Government agenda

The big playeers in the Australian egg industry are desperately trying to manipulate the outcome of the Federal Government's White paper on agriculture.
Poultry industry consultations with Australan Govenment representatives were held in Sydney on November 6. The sessions will help develop an Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, which will form the Federal Government's plans for the agriculture sector.

Industry participants apparently considered that a standards regulatory body and government endorsed quality assurance teams were preferable to following the agendas of third parties. They acknowledged the benefits of approved farming schemes (such as RSPCA accreditation) but said that the quasi-regulations and accompanying audits add to the administrative burden for poultry farmers.

Farm biosecurity, critical for maintaining productivity and access to export markets, was raised in the context of small farmers and backyarders.

Participants agreed that while there was an important place for small farmers and backyarders, it was vital to include them under the net of biosecurity arrangements.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Climate manipulation could damage all agricultural production - and everything on the planet

When you look up, what do you see? In the future, if you sometimes see strange patterns of thick vapour trails in the sky – they may not be just condensation trails from a high flying jet – you could be witnessing the results of a chemical seeding program in the upper atmosphere. A program which involves an Australian company.

The proposed chemtrail sprays have various elements like carbon which can be used to absorb microwaves. Some of these sprays include metal flakes intended to make aircraft invisible to radar. Known as Spoofer sprays, they may be used to create  magnetised plasmas to cloak fighter jets.

The spraying of aluminium, barium and sulphur into the upper atmosphere has been planned for some years and complements a major multinational experiment known as HAARP – High frequency Active Aural Research Project, built in Alaska, which is intended to help develop a global surveillance and communication system as well as controlling climatic conditions for military purposes. The program is mainly funded by the US Air Force, US Navy and the shadowy UK body, Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. A spin-off from that Agency is BAE Australia with a head office in South Australia. BAE provides military systems and equipment to the Australian defence forces and operates the Williamstown shipyard in Victoria.

 Russia started field testing climate geoengineering in the atmosphere in 2009, but the US is reported to be close behind. The issue of unmarked military aircraft (tankers) dumping tonnes of chemicals into the atmosphere has been reported in many countries but there is no hard evidence  hat it is currently happening.It is known that Russia's version of HAARP, began to be built at Vasilsursk in the 1980's.

For those who are dubious about widespread international attempts at Geoengineering, here's a paper from the Office of Australia's Chief Scientist on the issue. It looks particularly at pumping sulphate aerosols into the upper atmosphere to prevent sunlight from reaching the earth.
For  more insight, here are some views of Professor Clive Hamilton who likens the prospects of
geoengineering to Stanley Kubricks' film Dr Strangelove. Prof Hamilton advises that geoengineering is not currently underway.

Major news organisations here in Australia dismiss this as simply a conspiracy theory with a few loony followers. They ignore the many academics and scientists who have expressed their concerns and t5he huge volume of data and photographs avalable on the web. Here's a paper from the European Parliament - they take it seriously: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/press/sdp/backg/en/1998/b980209.htm

Friday, November 28, 2014

Massive Government subsidy for egg farm

Governments in all States, as well as the Federal lot are always squealing about the need to balance their budgets and producing excuses for cutting services to taxpayers.

But it doesn't stop them from finding money to support pet projects.

The latest example is the South Australian Government's decision to provide a $500,000 grant to expand an existing commercial egg farm.

How is it that politicians believe it's OK to pour money into a private business while cutting services to just about everyone else? This grant is a massive subsidy for one farm which will provide unfair competition for those free range egg producers who've used their own money, or had to borrow at commercial rates to establish and expand their businesses.

Here's a link to the announcement from the SA Government.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Egg stamping now compulsory

From this week, all eggs sold in Victoria must be stamped with a farm identification code.  The numbers have been issued by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries to improve food safety. It should also help to reduce egg substitution.
Producers or shops selling eggs which are not stamped should be reported to the local Council Health Department. Council Environmental Halth Officers are responsible for the enforcement of this national standard.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bird flu in UK is impacting on producers

Outbeaks of avian influenza are devastating for the egg industry - as was seen in NSW last year and is now being experienced in Europe. Here's a report about the latest outbreak in UK.
Egg farmers in Australia, and everywhere else need to heed biosecurity principles to protect their own businesses and their fellows in the industry.
All egg farmers here are currently paying for the greed of one or two farmers in NSW who risked everything to make a quick buck.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Free Trade Deal with China

Well the so-called 'free trade' deal with China has been negotiated. The deal has been widely welcomed even though the full implications for Australian agricultural businesses have yet to be realised -  Here are a few statistics which suggest there may be some problems for major egg producers in this country who could face stiff competition.

In 1998, the output volume of poultry eggs in China first reached 20 million tons,  over four times that of the U.S., accounting for almost 40% of the global poultry egg output volume. In 2012, the output volume of poultry eggs in China totalled 28.612 million tons.

In terms of international trade, the export value of eggs and egg products from China in 2012 was USD 177.13 million, showing an annual growth of over 2%. The export value of eggs to other countries in the asian region was USD 166.688 million.
Food for thought for the big boys! But they don't care about anyone else so why should we care about them.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Government pyromaniacs planning to disrupt our farming operations by burning native vegetation

Victoria's Department of Environment and Primary Industries has developed a 'planned burning' strategy in  a misguided and idiotic attempt to improve fire safety. As an example, we have recieved a notice that swamp scrub alongside our farm will be burned.
The area alongside our farm which is earmarked for burning
is hatched.

A burn right alongside us will have serious environmental implications as well as threaten our farm. Here's a letter I have sent to our State Minster for the Environment, Ryan Smith:

I am concerned that your Department plans to burn swamp scrub at the edge of the Grantvillle Nature Conservation Reserve in the next round of burning. It's too late this year, by far. Hasn't been safe for the whole winter. But the question is why would anyone burn swamp scrub? It is wet for most of the year - it provides habitat for bandicoots and skinks and Swamp Harriers nest there every year. It is considered an endangered vegetation community. VicRoads had to pay approx. $1.3m to offset some weed infested swamp scrub and sedgeland for the duplication of the Bass Highway near the Corinella turnoff. The area of the planned burn is also the headwaters of one of the few remaining permanent creeks running into the Bass River and feeds the one connected perched swamp. Contrary to the advice in DEPI's letter once this is burned it won't come back. The transevaporative effects will kill off the scrub, ferns, fungi, bladderworts etc. There is so little swamp scrub left that it makes no sense to burn it – far from any claims of making the bush safer from wildfire, it will make the area more fire-prone by changing the vegetation type.
If this 'planed burn' alongside our farm, gets away it will be responsible for the destruction of 100% of the remaining swamp scrub in this region and probably most of the remnant riparian vegetation on the Bass River.

On top of the environmental threat, there are serious health issues involved here, My wife Anne, is asthmatic and will not be able to remain on the farm while the burn takes place. Smoke from the Morwell coal pit fire drifted right down here, caused breathing difficulties for me which resulted in atrial fibrilation, heart failure and culminated in a stroke. Thankfully I have recovered well, but I can't go through that again.

If this burn goes ahead, we will have to leave the property which means that DEPI will need to provide accommodation for us as well as fund staff required to run the farm for the duration of the burn (we operate a free range egg farm).If the burn and resultant poor air quality coveers  an extended period of time we may be forced to cease operations permanently.
Here's one patch of swamp scrub under threat
And more which will disappear under the 'planned burn' protocol 

Friday, November 14, 2014

ACCC wrong to claim "no need' for a definitive free range standard

The consumer watchdog has declared there is ‘‘no need’’ for a free range egg standard in Australia,

But egg producers and consumer groups are helping to develop a standard with consumer Affairs Ministers in every

Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said producers should instead use commonsense and rely on court rulings to avoid misleading labelling.

‘‘Some have expressed concern there is no government standard that producers need to meet to be a free-range producer. We see no
need for any standard,’’ he said at an agricultural forum in Melbourne this week.
While I understand his position, I believe he is wrong.  There is far more to the definition of free range egg production than animal welfare issues.  On our farm we have a three pillars approach, with food safety, land sustainability and asnimasl welfasre taking equal positions. There is considerabl;e pressure from the corporate sector of the industry - as well as the Federal, Queensland and Victorian agriculture ministers not to define stocking densitiers. There is a push thatif that an outdoor density is defined, it should be the major supermarkets version of 10,000 hens per hectare instead of the 1500 per hectare allowed in the current Model Code. 
Unless a maximum outdoor density of 1500 per hectare is adopted by Ministers, then Rod Sims is right - don't bother with a national standard because the big players will simply maintain their intensive production systems.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Trade threat to Aussie egg industry

The egg industry here in Australia appears to be oblivious to the threat of  the Trans Pacific Partnership which is still being negotiated. Trade Minister Andrew Robb has been holding talks in Sydney this weekend which could see the importation of cheap eggs - but our farmers don't seem to care.
The Canadian Egg Industry is more aware of the potential threat to their businesses, but here, the big players prefer to look the other way.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Egg stamping should help to boost consumer confidence

Stamping eggs with a farm identification code is part of a national food safety scheme which is being implemented differently in each State. In Victoria, the State Government delayed the compulsory introduction of egg stamping until November 25 this year.

The Government says it will exempt producers with less than 50 hens from the new requirements. Some producers claim that the whole concept is a farce and will do nothing to improve food safety or traceability.

Egg stamping will help to solve the egg substitution rort which has been rife for years but probably first came to general notice in Victoria during 2007 with a high profile case when a company was fined for labelling eggs as organic when they were from conventional farms.

In 2012, a NSW barn egg farm was fined for packaging its eggs as free range and a South Australian egg seller was fined for putting cage eggs in free range cartons.

Also in 2012 an inspection processes in Victoria revealed that a farm was packing and selling eggs from dubious sources interstate and labelling them as free range eggs produced on that Victorian farm.

If all eggs are stamped with a unique number which shows the farm on which they were laid, egg substitution will hopefully become a thing of the past.

Consumers may still have to contend with labels which can be misleading, with pictures of hens frolicking on green pasture when the reality is far different. But a recent Federal Court decision which resulted in a $300,000 fine for a NSW egg farm which falsely labelled its eggs as free range, should give consumers a little more certainty when they buy eggs.

Accreditation means different things to different people. Consumers rightly expect it to convey a message of credibility about a particular product, but to many businesses it's simply a marketing tool designed to allow them to make claims which increase their profits.

A logo can be a valuable asset if it is trusted by consumers. But it's value is destroyed if it is shown to be meaningless. Any accreditation program is only as good as the willingness of the accreditation body to maintain its standards and defend its logo.

Unfortunately there is no free range certification standard in Australia which is worth the paper it's written on.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Irrational arguments against ACCC action over 'free range'

Writing in Stock and Land, and various other publicatioins, SamTrethewey has tried to justify the consumer deception practised by many egg farmers who label eggs as 'free range' even though they are from intensive production systems. He argues that those producers have simply followed the Model Code. But all that shows is that he hasn't read the Model Code, because, if he had, he would see that the maximum outdoor stocking for free range egg laying hens is 1500 per hectare. There is a reference in the Appendix to 'any higher density' being allowed for meat birds as long as a rotational system is in place.
In his rant, Mr Tretherwey claims that  'the Australian Competition andConsumer Commission (ACCC)"starts throwing their weight around and penalising some farmers to satisfy some consumer complaints.

But against which standard? These farmers have been following the agreed voluntary code.

Admittedly, industry hasn’t been able to unite to form mandatory standards for production.

So the ACCC penalises against perception, but whose perception?

A recent case saw the ACCC smacking free-range egg farmers in the face because not all hens were outside.

That’s right'.

Yes indeed, that's right Mr Trethewey, the ACCC was right to take action as  demonstrated by the farm's decision to accept an agreed penalty of $300,000. The Federal Court judgement is a great result for the industry.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Big problems for egg farmers if they follow Bede Burke's advice

From the Northern Daily Leader, Tamworth

A LOCAL egg industry expert says many producers are worried about their ability to deal with two major changes facing

their industry nationally – a legal definition of free-range eggs, and egg stamping.

while egg stamping has already started to be rolled out nationally and is set to come into force in NSW on November 26, a legal definition of freerange eggs will not be decided upon for several years.

A spokesman for federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said a national framework was “still quite a while away

... preparing these standards is expected to take a number of years to complete”.

The consumer affairs ministers’ forum, set to meet early next year, would “not consider a draft standard next year – it would be a progress update to consider how to proceed”, the spokesman said.

The chairman of the NSW Farmers’ egg committee, Bede Burke, who lives at Winton, said any definition of free range had to ultimately help producers.

It’s absolutely necessary, but it needs to be paralleled with how those four million (free-range) birds are currently housed,” Mr Burke said.

He said many producers had spent the past three to five years spending a lot of money changing infrastructure to comply with the existing code of practice.

If the code was changed “dramatically”, it would mean producers would have to “rethink whether to put (more)

capital in ... farmers need to re-evaluate whether they’re going to stay in the industry”, he said.

The definition by the code of practice was very loose and that’s where we’ve got these problems,” he said.

Mr Burke said outdoor stocking density was one of the biggest issues regarding what qualified as free range.

It’s a very emotive issue and it is an issue people don’t understand well,” he said.
comment by Freeranger Eggs:
What Bede Burke doesn't understand (or pretends he doesn't understand is that the Model Code currently imposes a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 per hectare for free range laying hens. It's only in the last five of six years that 'smart' operators in the industry have tried to claim that the Model Code sets no maximum limit.
The problem for the rest of us is that the corporate industry is able to exert great political pressure. Bede Burke has the ear of Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce (they were at school together).

Those of us who care about the future of the egg industry need to let the Ministers for Fair Trading know that industry heavyweights are talking nonsense

Contrary to Bede Burke's ravings, this is what AECL Managing director James Kellawsay has been telling egg farmers:
'This decision is directed to the industry practice of labelling of "free range" eggs and provides guidelines for the lawful usage of such term.

The judgement has some very important ramifications for free range egg farming, as it is now law. The judgement defines, to a degree, what free range egg farming is.

As a result, I urge you all to read the judgement carefully and take any necessary steps to ensure you comply.'

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Australia's egg industry tries a cover-up

Australia's egg industry is desperately trying to cover its tracks after major producers have been sprung conning consumers.

Bede Burke, Egg Committee Chairman of NSW Farmers claimed in an interview on ABC radio that there is confusion surrounding free-range and caged eggs, which is making future investment for the industry difficult.

He said it was a shock to see avian influenza outbreaks in the new style of free-range farms built in Australia. He said the magnitude of the outbreak was foreign to DPI staff, although the virus was eventually contained to two farms and eradicated. He acknowledged that the recent ACCC court case against Pirovic over free-range eggs was a defining case. But he tried to argue that farmers have invested in free-range production according to the existing code, which is now having a different interpretation laid over top of it. What a load of cobblers – it's purely greed. The existing code precludes intensive free range egg production but the shonky operators thought they had found a loophole! Bede Burke's attempts to defend shonky practices have not been supported by the Egg Corporation. Managing Director James Kellaway has told egg farmers " The judgement has some very important ramifications for free range egg farming, as it is now law. The judgement defines, to a degree, what free range egg farming is. As a result, I urge you all to read the judgement carefully and take any necessary steps to ensure you comply.

World Egg Day - a 'free range' definition

The definition of 'free range' will be a key feature of World Egg Day in Australia. At last, thanks to the Federal Court, there is now a specific definition which will be explained at an Open Day being held at Freeranger Eggs in Grantville this Friday and again on Saturday at the Farmers' Market at the Old Cheese Factory in Berwick.
One of the details in the judgement by Justice Geoffrey Flick  when he approved a fine of $300,000 for the mislabelling of eggs by Pirovic  Enterprises is "any free-range claim must be backed by farming conditions and practices ...under which hens actually move about on an open range each day.  Here's a piece run by ABC radio in Gippsland.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Free Range - the legal definition

At last in Australia we now have a legal definition what the term 'free range' means, thank to the ACCC and the Federal Court.
Here are details which we will publishing as a poster available at the Farmers' Markets we attend.

The Federal Court found that by labelling and promoting eggs as ‘free range’, a NSW egg company Pirovic Enterprises represented to consumers that the eggs were produced by hens which were able to move about freely on an open range each day, and that most of the hens did so on most days. Pirovic admitted, most of its hens did not move about freely on an open range on most days.

The Court found that the eggs supplied by Pirovic were produced by hens, most of which did not move about on an open range because of a combination of factors:

  • the stocking densities inside the barns where the hens were housed;
  • the flock sizes inside those barns; and
  • the number, size and placement and operation of the physical openings to the open range.

This decision provides clear guidance that any free range egg claim must be backed by farming conditions and practices implemented by suppliers under which hens actually move about on an open range each day.

The ACCC and Pirovic agreed on joint submissions and proposed orders put to the Court. That resulted in fines of $300,000 plus costs to be paid by Pirovic for misleading consumers.

The court found that there are a number of farming conditions that impact on whether hens move freely on an open range each day. The conditions vary between producers and no single conditionis conclusive. The relevant conditions include:

  • the internal stocking density of sheds;
  • the conditions of the internal areas the hens are housed in;
  • the number, size and location of any openings to an outdoor area;
  • the time of the day and how regularly the openings are opened;
  • the size and condition of the outdoor area, including any shaded areas, the presence of food, water and different vegetation and ground conditions;
  • the stocking density of any outdoor area; and
  • whether the hens have been trained or conditioned to remain indoors.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Egg Farmer of the Year could have been embarrasing

The Kondinin Group's Egg Farmer of the Year Award could have been embarrasing with the Federal Court finding on the definition of free range and the hefty fine handed out to a NSW egg producer. The ACCC could have just as easily launched action against any of the major egg producers in this countrry who claim that their products are 'free range' - including the Tasmanian business to which ther award was given.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

At last a legal definition for 'free range'

The timing of the Federal Court decision against Pirovic Enterprises couldn't have been better. It provides a clear 'free range' definition for the industry to adopt and it will strengthen the resolve of State Ministers for Fair Trading when they next meet in April to approve a production code.
The Australian Egg Corportion's annual meting is in Canberra on November 19 and 20 and  staff from  the NSW Department of Fair Trading have been invited to a consulatative forum
The NSW Department of Fair Trading was tasked by the Ministerial Council of Fair Trading/Consumer Affairs to draft a national information standard on free range eggs and minimum labelling requirements for egg labelling.
The egg industry is also meeting in October to consider ideas for changes to the Model Code of Practice for the welfare of Poultry.  The big boys will have to modify their ideas in the light of the Federal Court decision. A specific legal decision is something we have been fighting for. Without it consumers would continue to be conned - and it's not just the ultra-large corporations. None of the so-called free range accreditation standards is worth the paper it is written on. Consumers need to be aware that they will never find free range eggs in a major supermarket. There are plenty labelled as free range but they are sourced from intensive farms and at best should be called cage-free.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

$300,000 fine for 'free range' deception

One of NSW's biggest egg proucers has been fined $300,000 by the Federal court to settle an action brought by the ACCC. The fine to be paid by Pirovic Enterprises is big enough to get big producers in the industry to take egg labelling seriously. Details: https://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.accc.gov.au%2Fmedia-release%2Ffederal-court-orders-300000-penalty-after-finding-free-range-egg-claims-to-be-misleading&h=JAQE9LbqwAQF-azXgTSo45zT3Q7CG89uErEHEuHJWoXXwow&enc=AZN-L4J76OOccvlaGHHWDLY8z1HeH5-U23jK3a0r1Ks7G7k-BzWkexYovvfAg6F8KTeAFR4LLMsStMfWzgQ46ywtZzzXngqyEFgZHEim43cFoLvEQ4wDBByuDS00MNaAGU3v4uPq38evaf1pPZYEiNni3_YQDAs-Nh5XEvJLBfv1zg&s=1
One of the interesting side issues in this decision will be to see if the company takes action against the Australian Egg Corporation - because the business complied with all AECL requirements for its Egg Corp Assured programme - and was accredited as a  free range egg producer. Now the scheme has been revealed as a sham - just as all 'free range' accreditation programmes are a con. Pirovic has not been doing anything differently from other major egg producers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Commercial release of eColi vaccine for poultry

Comment is being sought on the release of a genetically modified poultry vaccine that provides immunity to E.coli infection and disease. Australia's Gene Technology Regulator is currently assessing a license application from the Australian arm of global animal research company Zoetis for a commercial release .
Here are details:


Friday, August 22, 2014

Aussie egg farms to pay for bird flu clean up costs

All egg farmers in Australia will be forced to pay for the costs of the avian influenza outbreak in New South Wales even though it was caused by poor on-farm practices and inadequate biosecurity procedures on the individual farms involved.

A new levy of 1.4 cents on every chick purchased by farmers will be charged, on top of existing levies. A business case has been submitted to the Department of Agriculture for an increase in the Emergency Animal Disease Response Levy.  Egg farmers have six weeks to object to the new levy so If think it's unfair on farmers who do the right thing,  object to this proposal. Send an email to AECL at contacts@aecl.org and also to the Department of Agriculture in Canberra at levies.management@agriculture.gov.au. It seems odd that a coalition Government which publicly supports small business and believes in individual responsibilty would choose a collective approach to bail out businesses which made poor decisions.

The levy increase proposal is to repay an amount of $395,000 to the Australian Government for the egg industry’s share of costs incurred for the responses associated with an outbreak of LPAI among ducks during January 2012; an outbreak of HPAI among laying hens in November 2012; and another outbreak of HPAI among laying hens in October 2013. Many farmers are asking "why should we be penalised for the greed of a couple of operators and their decisions to ignore normal business practices and biosecurity procedures."
To compare the way farmers are treated, in the European Union, 50% of costs associated with the eradication or control of Avian Influenza are covered by the Government.  I'm not suggesting that should be the case here but I don't understand why Aussie farmers who have met all biosecurity and food safety processes should be penalised to the same extent as the clowns in the industry who have been chasing quick dollars.  Where is the equity?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Workshop on Starting a Free Range Egg Farm

Our next workshop on setting up free range egg farm will be held on Wednesday October 15 as part of Fair Food Week.  Details are on our website.
Attendees will get most out of the day if they have read our eBook.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Forum on 'free range' at egg industry meeting in Canberra

A new free range standard and possible new egg labelling requirements in Australia will be discussed at the next egg industry Forum in Canberra in November.

  After a presentation by the NSW Department of Fair Trading to the Forum egg farmers will be able to participate in a consultation session with Department officials about the issues.

The NSW Department of Fair Trading was tasked by the Ministerial Council of Fair Trading/Consumer Affairs to draft a national information standard on free range eggs and  minimum labelling requirements for egg labelling. The draft will be considered by the Ministerial Council next April.
The Forum will take place on November19 aand 20  in Canberra and it will be followed by the annual meeting of the Australian Egg Corporation.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's not only the world's bees that are dying off - birds are also now threatened by pesticides. The message of 'Silent Spring' is on the way back.

New research has identified the world’s most widely used insecticides as the key factor in the recent reduction in numbers of farmland birds.
The finding represents a significant escalation of the known dangers of the insecticides and follows an assessment in June that warned that pervasive pollution by these nerve agents was now threatening all food production.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bass Coast Business Awards

Bass Coast Shire is running its Business Awards programme again this year. One of the categories is the People's Choice Award - where customers can  nominate any business operating within the Shire.Nominations for People’s Choice close 5.00pm Friday, 8 August 2014.
Customers can nominate Freeranger Eggs on the voting site http://www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/Business/Bass_Coast_Business_Awards/Vote_Now!_Peoples_Choice_Award
Just by nominating a business, customers can win a $250 shopping voucher.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sense at last in Australia (maybe)

With a bit of luck, we hope that Australia has avoided the prospect of 'freedom fighters' wreaking havoc throughout the country.

There has been massive community unrest over decisions made by national politicians - but potentially the most damaging problems have been caused by the ultra right-wing Queensland state government which ignored the normal legal processes everyone thought were part of our civilization.

Now after a stinging election result, the Queensland premier is making noises to curb his vicious approach to people. We expect that Australia's embarrassing Prime Minister will also tone down his attack on the Australian population (as well as his allegations against the Russians and his Foreign Minister's allegations against the Chinese Government.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

UK free range producers back our stand on stocking densities

An article in the  British Free Range Egg Producers Association magazine backs our view that the Australian egg industry needs to encourage more small-scale free range farms rather than the mega farms which are add-ons to existing cage or barn facilities.
Here's a story they ran following comments by Aussie poultry vet Dr Peter Scott confirming that intensive 'free range' is not the way to go.

This article should help to reinforce the push for a realistic definition of the term'free range' which hopefully will be established by the Ministers for Consumer Affairs when they next meet.

Once there is a clear definition, there is expected to be a massive increase in interest in establishing free range farms. This sector of the industry has been  depressed by  corporate producers who dominate the market with their deceptive practices in labelling intensively produced eggs as 'free range'.

There is strong demand for our  eBook and our workshops on setting up a free range farm - and once legislation is in place, that demand is likely to become an avalanche.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Is a polar reversal about to start?

There has been a growing scientific debate about a looming reversal of the earth's magnetic field – a flip of polarity which would switch the North and South poles.

But there's no need to worry it's not expected to start happening for a couple of decades – and it might take 1000 years to complete (but fossil remains have demonstrated that in the past, polar reversals have occurred within just a couple of years.

Magnetic reversals are triggered by Sunspot activity, the solar wind, and the interplanetary magnetic field induced primarily by the Sun.The Earth's geomagnetic field, is greatly influenced by solar effects. These include everything from disruptions in electronic or electromagnetic communications during heightened sunspot activity to minor shifts in our magnetic poles - which have been recorded at between. 8 and 10 degrees.

The effects of other planets' electromagnetic fields on the Earth are generally dismissed as insignificant in comparison to the solar effects. Major effects such as other planets causing or triggering magnetic pole reversals are not considered remotely possible. This is because  the solar wind dominates interplanetary space.

However, when the solar wind is temporarily interrupted, any planets' magnetosphere may significantly influence the electromagnetic properties of other planets.

During the periods of 'Sun-Jupiter oppositions', the Earth is directly between the Sun and Jupiter. Because of the differences in the inclination of the orbits of the two planets, such oppositions usually refer only to the longitudinal dimension—the latitudinal dimension is still considerably different, so  the Earth is not effectively in alignment with the Sun and Jupiter. Such alignment occurs only when the Earth passes between the Sun and Jupiter longitudinally, and simultaneously, the difference in latitude between the Earth and Jupiter is less than one minute of arc.  when such a near-perfect alignment does occur, the effects may be significant!

The concept suggested is that during a near-perfect alignment of the Sun, Earth, and Jupiter -- i.e. the longitudes of Earth and Jupiter are exact, and the differences in latitude within less than one minute of arc -- the “Jupiter Wind”, responds to the temporary cessation of the dynamic pressure of the solar wind (caused by the Earth's electromagnetic “shadow” falling on Jupiter's magnetosphere) by an electromagnetic surge in the direction of the null spot of the solar wind. This so-called Jupiter Wind consists of charged particles with negatively charged electrons leading the way and leaving the larger positively charged protons behind. The charged particles, no longer constrained by the pressure of the solar wind, are essentially flung out into space in the direction of the Earth.

The alignment is a dynamic event and the solar wind quickly reasserts its dominant pressure as the Earth moves out from between the Sun and Jupiter. For this reason, the charged particles reaching the Earth initially are electrons.  The leading edge of the Jupiter Wind would effectively sweep across the earth (just as the Earth's shadow swept across the face of Jupiter), causing a negatively charged surge, which when in combination with the solar wind could cause a massive electromagnetic force against the Earth's geomagnetic field. In many respects, the Jupiter Wind could provide the trigger and “reversing mechanism” while the solar wind provides the power.

The potential for such a geomagnetic pole reversal event ispredictable by simply calculating those dates when the Sun-Earth-Jupiter alignment is sufficiently precise to cause the shadowing effect.

Geopalenotologists rather glibly talk of such reversals occurring every million years or so. By their own data, however, such reversals have occurred, on average, every 400,000 years, and the last such reversal was 730,000 years ago. Logic suggests that the earth is overdue for a geomagnetic pole reversal.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More free range farms needed in Australian egg industry

Once there is a clear national definition of the term 'free range' which brings some honesty back into the egg in dustry there will be even greater incentives for more people to set up free range farms -which is exactly what's needed to meet consumer demand. We agree totally with leading poultry industry vet Dr Peter Scott that more small-scale free range farms must be established rather than the intensive systems which are often add-ons to existing cage or barn facilities.
Moves to introduce a clear definition for free range eggs have been welcomed. State Ministers responsible for consumer affairs will consider endorsing a legal definition at their next meeting which is expected to be in April. The NSW Minister for Fair Trading Matthew Mason-Cox has been selected to prepare a draft standard.

We need a clear definition if consumer confidence is to be restored.The next step will be to get more producers involved in genuine free range production which is where our already popular eBook on  setting up a free range farm comes in - as well as the workshops we run at Grantville.

The outbreak of avian influenza at an intensive farm near Young in NSW last year demonstrated the problems which can be generated by intensive production methods - as did salmonella issues in Victoria earlier this year.

Land sustainability, food safety, animal welfare and truth in labelling  are key components of an effective free range industry and we hope that the Australian Egg Corporation will support the establishment of hundreds more free range egg farms.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Politicians working on a free range standard - at last there should be a legal definition

It looks like that at long last politicians in Australia are listening to the egg industry and consumers that there needs to be a national, legal definition of the term 'free range'.
We have been arguing this point for years because there are so many in the industry who have been cheating customers, and pocketing big profits.
At the next forum of State Ministers for Consumer Affairs later this year, moves will be made to establish specific regulations covering stocking densities etc.  We don't know all the details yet, but we certainly welcome the inititive and we will provide any help we can to get a realistic outcome for genuine producers and their customers.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Free Range debate still raging in South Australia

The South Australian Government is still to finalise its voluntary free range egg production scheme.  The sticking points appear to be establishing the accreditation and inspection processes and the costs involved for poducers.  Minister for Business Services Gail   Gago has said "there is currently no national enforceable definition of free range eggs. I have participated in national forums, ministerial council forums—most of which have now been disbanded by the current Liberal federal government—and I know that this issue has been on and off that agenda for many years. Although it has been strongly pushed and championed by South Australia—because our view has always been that the best way to proceed was through a nationally consistent approach, through a national code and national standards—unfortunately we have not been able to get other jurisdictions on board, so we failed to progress a national code.

I still believe that is the best way forward. I do not think it shows much possibility in the current climate, so South Australia is getting on with this other alternate scheme. Cabinet has approved the drafting of an industry code under the Fair Trading Act 1987, and it will require producers to meet standards, including a maximum stocking density of 1,500 layer eggs per hectare, unrestricted access to outside areas for a minimum of eight hours per day, outdoor areas to provide adequate shelter, and a prohibition on induced moulting". Minister Gago said 
We still hope that a national standard will be established.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Egg Industry Vet slams biosecurity processes on corporate 'free range' farms.

the latest Australian Egg Corporation publication Eggstra Eggstra contains an article by leading industry vet Dr Peter Scott, the managing director of consulting Group Scolexia Pty Ltd. In the article he fully supports the arguments we have used for years that intensive 'free range' egg farms are a major biosecurity hazard. He confirmed our views that the industry should avoid building large 'free range' complexes close to cage farms. He also said that the industry should be looking at encouraging 'small farm units' which are spatially separated.This is exactly why we encourage people to set up more small scale free range farms. That's what our wokshops are all about and the next one is this Saturday  May 31. So far at least 20 farms have become established following our input.
It is very gratifying that Dr Scott has at last acknowledged that outbreaks of avian influenza are a result of inadequate biosecurity practices. "There is only one level of biosecurity and that is one that ensures - at all times - there is no potential for an incursion of AI because of a failure of barrier securitry", he said.
Hopefully this article will result in the Australian Egg Corporation actively supporting the free range sector of the industry rather than concentrating on the intensive production systems used by the corporate sector.
It will be interesting to see  how those corporate egg producers react to the published views of Dr. Scott.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bristol University confirms knowledge about methods of reducing feather pecking in free range laying hens

Researchers at the UK's University of Bristol have confirmed knowledge about methods of reducing feather pecking and cannibalism in free range (or non-cage) laying hens.

A report about the findings, published in Poultry International is here:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Telstra has fixed our landline at last

That headline was a little premature.Our landline and internet connection were working again for a day after about a month of problems - which meant that we were not able to send our eBook and Freeranger Club password to those who registered for our our next workshop on setting up a free range farm on May  31. The telephone worked for a day after Telstra fixed a fault at the exchange. But it has failed again. Thankfully the internet connection is still working. (I don't understand how the internet is OK over the phone line when the phone doesn't work).But at least we are not completely out of touch with the world and can send and receive emails.
Our internet service provider says that at Grantville, we are ouside the area which can use their wireless internet connection - but we will check out a wireless service offered by an ISP on Phillip Island. We are sick of Telstra!!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Salmonella problem on Victorian egg farm

More than 200 people became ill after eating at restaurants supplied by an Ararat egg farm. Details are at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-03/western-victoria-eggs-linked-to-salmonella-outbreak/5295078/?site=ballarat

Problems with Salmonella are not common in Australia as most commercial farms follow strict food safety procedures.

We are always amazed at the things we see people getting away with at markets - even Farmers' Markets which claim to only have accredited stallholders .

Here's a brief run-down about Salmonella and how good operators can easily avoid the problem.

Salmonella is a bacteria that can be found on many farms. Chickens carry the bacteria in their bodies, and pass Salmonella into the yolk and white while eggs are being formed in the ovaries. Bacteria may be deposited on the eggshell when the egg is laid and then in the right conditions, the bacteria can pass through the shell pores into the egg itself.

Despite a common belief, cracked eggs are not generally responsible for Salmonella problems. An intact shell does not guarantee safe eggs. The key is good on-farm hygiene practices with rodent control, clean nest boxes, clean grading and packing facilities and adequate cool storage. Eggs should be clean when they are laid and regular collection and good handling practices prevent the spread of bacteria.

Any part of the egg can harbour bacteria, and both whites and yolks have been implicated in food borne illness. However, the yolk is the most common source.

Chickens can be infected with salmonella bacteria from their environment, which is easily contaminated by rodents, birds and flies. These carriers take the bacteria to all types of egg farms whether they're cage, organic or free-range. The totally controlled environment of cage systems probably makes the problem less likely there as long as feed, water storage and egg handling facilities are up to scratch.

Once the bacteria get inside the chickens, the micro organisms thrive under ideal temperature and conditions.

When the eggs have been laid, multiplication happens fast if the eggs aren't cooled quickly. And if there's a lapse in cleaning practices or an undetected outbreak among the chickens, the percentage of affected eggs can increase rapidly.

Salmonella bacteria can double every 20 minutes under ideal conditions. In an hour at room temperature, two bacteria could become 32. At two hours, there may be 1,000 organisms. At eight hours, there can be millions in one egg.

One of the big problems for consumers at markets is that eggs are often transported halfway across the State and are not kept in temperature controlled conditions. The eggs may leave the farm on Thursday or Friday for deliveries in Melbourne and some may not be sold until a Sunday market.

If those eggs are well cooked, they should present no problem – but if they are eaten raw or in an undercooked form, gastroenteritis is often the result.

According to press reports, the problems with the latest contamination issue has been a combination of poor egg handling procedures and the number of eggs laid on the floor of the sheds rather than in nest boxes. The company's answer appears to be to import an egg washing machine to wash all eggs produced on the farm.

This outbreak demonstrates why industry accreditation programs are a fiasco.

Here's the latest from Green Eggs as published:

Products from a Great Western egg farm, Green Eggs, are back in the market place following a link with a salmonella outbreak.

The Victorian Health Department linked an outbreak of gastro enteritis due to salmonella at two restaurants to raw-egg foods made from Green Eggs products.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries restricted the sale of eggs from the Great Western farm until additional cleaning and hygiene measures were in place to improve food safety. Those measures are now in place.

Owner Alan Green said the small business was devastated by the link to their product.
Mr Green said five employees had lost jobs this week because of changes made to the processing and packaging department.

He said Green Eggs were awaiting the delivery of an online washer from overseas to assist quality control.
"Eggs are now going out - they are being washed in Melbourne and are back in the market place," he said.
"Eggs already in the market place are fine but the public's safety is our number one priority."

Chief health officer Dr Rosemary Lester said people who had bought Green Eggs products from their supermarket and still had eggs in their fridge should only use them for cooked dishes and foods.
Dr Lester said thoroughly cooking eggs rendered them safe from contaminants such as salmonella.
Green Eggs supplies a range of restaurants, cafes and other eateries, farmers' markets and several supermarkets across Victoria, including A Bottle of Milk restaurant in Torquay, where 220 people ate before coming down with gastroenteritis in February.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Asia is a major egg producer

This article from World Poultry in 2009 demonstrates why there are potentially major problems for the Australian egg industry if the Australian Government signs the Trans Pacific Partnership (should an agreement be reached).


Egg production has increased significantly in many of the countries in Asia since that article was written and the importation of shell eggs into Australia is likely to be an inevitable consequence of a free trade agreement. China is by far the largest egg producer in Asia, followed by India, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

No agreement on the TPP

Many people are celebrating the lack of agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after four days of negotiations in Singapore.

It's clear that support for such a massive free trade agreement involving 12 countries is waning as some of the individual countries see little value for their own economies.  Major sticking points concern market access and differences over tariffs on imported goods.

Negotiators had initially hoped that a draft agreement would emerge from the talks and that a deal would be ready in April.

But arguments over the issues of tariffs on specific goods have proved difficult to overcome.

Agricultural tariffs are particularly sensitive for Japan, which is trying to protect its rice, wheat, beef and pork as well as dairy and sugar, from outside competition.

Some other TPP members (such as Australia) with large agricultural production available for export, are pushing for the elimination of all tariffs. Industries in some countries would be decimated by the complete removal of tariffs.