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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Study indicates manganese improves eggshell quality

A study in China has shown that good levels of dietary manganese in poultry diets can benefit eggshell quality.

In the first eight weeks of a 12-week feeding trial, all hens in the study were fed a diet that met all nutrient requirements except for manganese. In the last four weeks of the trial, each group was fed one of three diets supplemented with manganese levels at 0, 25 or 100 mg/kg. Dietary manganese deficiency did not affect overall egg performance but supplementation significantly improved breaking strength, thickness and the toughness of eggshells.

This study indicated that dietary manganese supplementation improves eggshell quality by enhancing the quality and strength of the eggshell membrane, which affects the structure of eggshells.

Dietary manganese is found in whole grains, including soy beans, green leafy vegetables and pumpkin seeds.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Egg stamping starts in November

The Piccolo, a six egg stanper. 30 egg and single egg stampers are also available as well
as inket or laser printers to fit on grading machines.

Time is running out for egg producers to meet the November deadline for stamping all eggs with a farm identification code.

Many farms have already started looking at what suits their businesses, and some have begun stamping already – but there seem to be quite a few who haven't yet begun their research.

A wide range of options is available for all sizes of egg producers – starting at around $50 for hand stampers for single eggs, six at a time or 30 egg trays.

Then there are inkjet printers which can be attached to graders starting at around $2000 – or even laser printers which don't require ink.

Details, including videos of a range of options is on the Freeranger website for Freeranger Club members.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Trans-Pacific Partnership dead in the water?

It's gradually looking like the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement will be scuttled. More than 120 US Congressmen have written to the US Trade Representative in Washington (Michael Froman) expressing concern that the TPP may weaken environmental protections.

This prompted Ilana Solomon, Director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, to release the following statement:
"Members of Congress have sent a clear message that they will not accept a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal if it lacks a fully enforceable and robust environment chapter.

"Recently leaked documents show us that while the U.S. government is pushing to strengthen conservation elements of the chapter, it’s also pushing to weaken rules related to climate disruption and biodiversity.

“An acceptable environment chapter must address many challenges -- from trade in illegally harvested timber to harmful practices like shark finning -- and would need to be supported by a full trade deal that doesn’t cut away at progress that has been made to keep our air, water, and land clean.

That means negotiators should reject the dispute resolution process that gives corporations unfettered rights, and the U.S. government should push to ensure foreign companies don’t seize control of American gas exports and open the floodgate to more dangerous fracking.”

Hopefully discussions currently underway in Singapore will fail.

Friday, February 21, 2014

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says human patients infected with avian 'flu won't infect poultry

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says there is no evidence that human patients infected with H7N9 avian influenza can transmit the virus to animals. FAO referred to the first human case of H7N9 outside China, which was recently detected in Malaysia.
The patient, originally from Guangdong Province in China was visiting Malaysia as a tourist and has been hospitalized. Guangdong is one of the Chinese provinces most affected by the H7N9 virus.
"This case does not come as a surprise and should not be a cause for increased concern, but should remind the world to remain vigilant," said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth. "Humans that become ill with H7N9 constitute no threat to poultry," Lubroth said.
"We have no evidence that affected people could transmit the virus to other species, including birds. The highest risk of virus introduction is uncontrolled live poultry trade between affected and unaffected areas."
People become infected following close contact with infected live poultry, mostly in live bird markets or when slaughtering birds at home.
WHO risk assessments show that should infected people from affected areas travel internationally, community spread is unlikely since the virus does not have the ability to transmit easily among humans.
Lubroth observed that "Such 'imported' human cases, like the one reported in Malaysia last week, have been found in the past in previously unaffected areas of China, like Guizhou, Taiwan Province of China and Hong Kong SAR, and we will likely continue to see this in the not too distant future again. To date the virus has not been found in poultry populations outside affected areas in China."
Birds that have contracted H7N9 do not show clinical signs, which renders early detection of the virus in poultry populations more difficult.
FAO is focusing on high risk countries, facilitating risk assessment, contingency planning, expansion of diagnostic capabilities and risk-based surveillance.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The real reason for Toyota, GM and Alcoa pulling out of Australia

The real reason for Toyota, General Motors and Ford pulling out of manufacturing in Australia may have been revealed today. Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb announced a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea. He said that tariffs on Australian exports will be removed under the agreement and that the deal would deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in exports.
Plans are also well advanced for the Trans Pacific Partnership which will extend so-called 'free trade' still further and this may have helped to trigger Alcoa's decision to close its Geelong smelter. Alcoa is "repositioning" itself in the global market place - it already has operations in South Korea and Indonesia. The TPP could be signed in Singapore this week.
"As a result of the agreement, tariffs will be eliminated on Australia's major exports to Korea and there will be significant new market openings in services and investment," said Minister Robb.
"As part of the FTA, tariffs of up to 300 per cent will be eliminated on key Australian agricultural exports such as beef, wheat, sugar, dairy, wine, horticulture and seafood, as well as resources, energy and manufactured goods.”
It is claimed that the benefits of the FTA will start immediately, with some modelling suggesting that the Free Trade Agreement would be worth $5 billion between 2015 and 2030 and could boost the economy by around $650 million annually after 15 years.
The suggestion is that Australian automotive suppliers will benefit from the immediate removal of tariffs as high as eight per cent; the wine industry from tariffs of 15 per cent and Australian wheat growers, potato farmers and cherry, grape and mango producers would all benefit.
If we believe that, we deserve everything we get!!

Unfortunately it seems that currently Australia's largest export through our ports is shipping containers! They arrive here full but as we have little to put in them, most are loaded empty onto the container ships - so effectively we are exporting Australian air.

Ask Tony Abbott to think again.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Consumers ripped-off by some egg producers

The gullibility of consumers never ceases to amaze me. Most just accept the marketing blurb provided by producers – even at Farmers' Markets.

Recent hot weather has been used as an excuse by some egg producers to put manufactured colouring additives and meat meal in their poultry rations. (Many others have been doing that for years).

Now more than 95% (and it's probably 99%) of egg producers, even those which claim to be free range, are using additives to enhance yolk colour as hot conditions have dried off the pasture on which the hens are supposed to roam.

They have looked for a solution which is low cost and easy rather than go to the extra effort (and cost) of supplementing existing feed with green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, carrots and lucerne meal or sprouted grains.

Here's a Facebook post by an egg producer which provides an 'excuse' for its decision: “Please note that we have an immediate change in poultry diet based on veterinary and animal nutritionist’s advice due to severe heat stress caused by prolonged 40’C + temperatures.
Our feed ration needs to include soluble meat protein and natural pigmentation (which is the norm in the egg industry). The extreme heat has decimated our green pasture and caused weight loss in flocks and as such we have no alternative but to implement these changes to our farming practices”.

The big difficulty with colouring additives is that although some may be based on natural products, they are manufactured in laboratories or factories (often in China) and concentrated in powder or liquid form. Many of them generate allergic reactions or sensitivities – which lead people to think that they are allergic to eggs.
We can provide details about the allergic properties of the commonly used additives.

The use of meat meal is also an issue as poultry products are frequently used by the feed mills.

Imported eggs on the way to Australia?

With Australian supermarkets squealing about a shortage of eggs, pressure is on for imports. Already some countries are eyeing off Australia as a potential market for shell eggs - and once the Trans Pacific Partnership is in place there will be no legal means to stop them.

Exports of U.S. table eggs in 2013 were an all-time high - 187.93 million dozen valued at $184.24 million, up 50 percent from 2012 - thanks largely to increased shipments to Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The top markets for U.S. table eggs in 2013 were Mexico, 62.2 million dozen, up from 17 million dozen in 2012; Hong Kong, 51.4 million dozen, up 11 percent; Canada, 39.3 million dozen, up 50 percent; the U.A.E., 11.4 million dozen, down 11 percent; the European Union, 8.6 million dozen, down 2 percent.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The dodgy Trans-Pacific Partnerhip agreement

The Australian Government says that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is 'a viable pathway for realising the vision of a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific.'

It says that the Asia-Pacific region is a driver of global economic growth with close to half of all global trade.

The secretive TPP negotiations include five of Australia’s top 10 trading partners, Japan, United States, Singapore, New Zealand and Malaysia. The Government claims that Australia’s participation in the TPP negotiations will strengthen our trade relationship with these key trading partners. The TPP also includes Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Peru, and Vietnam – and others have been invited to join.

But if it is all it's cracked up to be, why are the negotiations not public? There are huge global businesses pushing the agenda and it seems that they don't want us to know what is going on.

Information which has been leaked about the negotiations causes many concerns over things like the trashing of national food safety regulations and draconian enforcement measures over intellectual property rights.

If the TPP is implemented it will take 'free trade' to a completely different level and we can kiss goodbye to food safety standards. Our own industry will be under attack as there will no way to prevent the importation of eggs from any of the participating countries.

Have a look at:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Farm inspection OK for food safety

The annual inspection of our food safety and farm management procedures was conducted today and everything was fine.
The HACCP-based Food Safety Program which we use, plus our extensive record keeping ensures that we comply with all food safety requirements.

We meet the food safety standards of the Health Department and the requirements of the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.
It seems that we are the first egg farm in the region to implement egg stamping to provide farm traceability. All farms are required to comply with stamping regulations by November this year.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Victorian Farmers' Markets Association ignoring member concerns

Members of the Victorian Farmers' Markets Association have been concerned about being by-passed in a decision to bring forward the date on which membership fees are payable. Despite complaints to the new committee, members views have been ignored.
There has been a great deal of discussion by stallholders at markets around Victoria, and the problems have been clearly put in the latest newsletter of the Koonwarra Farmers' Market - supported by many others. We hope that the new committee of the VFMA looks at the problems instead of branding all dissenting voices as 'troublemakers.'
Here's the report from Koonwarra Farmers' Market (the first Farmers' Market in Victoria).
'The reaction by producers to the new VFMA member's fee structure has been anticipated for some time. Your present and past market managers had raised producers concerns of VFMA policies and potential fees, closure was denied.
History has repeated itself; the VFMA has failed to communicate with the industry that it represents.
It is documented by this market that the accreditation scheme with its sweeping powers was developed without direct producer input or regional market's consultation; as a result there has
been ongoing resentment. This market's former Market Manager and Treasurer (Juliet & Bill) also stated that eventually the costs associated with VFMA's accreditation scheme would in time come back to all producers.
Founding markets Koonwarra and Yarra Valley had meetings to initiate VFMA's development 14 years ago. This was in recognition that an industry representative was required. That has not
changed only the politics.
Report to VFMA on resolving membership concerns. Koonwarra's market is producer owned and operated, proud of its founding history, devotion to authenticity, considerate of local producer's viability and keeping to the Jane Adams founding farmers' market principles. With this background we take farmers market related topics earnestly.
The producers at Koonwarra are well informed on VFMA activities receiving regular updates by our unique "Market Matters" newsletter devoted to topics relevant to this market's long successful operation.

Summary of discussions:
Below is a clarification and brief of Koonwarra's informal gathering and producer/market management communication. It is a detailed summary with conclusions that convey both Koonwarra producers' opinions and endeavours to resolve their VFMA fee concerns.
• "The existing market VFMA levy becomes the VFMA member/levy fee inclusive due at every market attended".
a. The above amount to be determined by VFMA's ongoing administration budget and necessitates reconciliation between the predicted revenue from VFMA's annual membership fees at regional markets and a VFMA member/levy. An acceptance of the outcome is critical for producers.
b. The user pays: those attending accredited markets regularly have the most to gain and therefore would pay though the above members/levy fee at every market attended. This means that growers/producers attending seasonally or just a small number of markets will pay minimal members/levy, a reflection on their market attendance. They will not be subsidising (through the existing VFMA member's fee) the more active producers achieving far greater financial benefits by attending many VFMA accredited markets.
c. Taking into consideration some members have already paid the VFMA annual fee it was accepted that a dual system may be required for the remainder of 2014.
• "All accredited and non- accredited stallholders at a given VFMA accredited market pay the same member/levy fee regardless of accreditation status. Community groups exempted". This removes
existing discrimination between the farmer, specialty food makers and non- accredited stallholders, all would pay the same and become VFMA members by attending accredited markets as stallholders.
• "Lower member/levy fees at every accredited market in the regional areas and graduating upwards at interface and city markets, similar structure to the existing VFMA levy fees". This is a reflection on the fluctuating and often non-viable returns achieved by many producers attending regional markets with low customer attendance. Many businesses are emerging and require consideration.
The above summary also anticipates that beyond 2014 there would be considerably less demand on administration, both at the market and by VFMA staff. Members/levy fees would be paid by attending markets as stallholders: additional recording or pursuing of fees would not be required, gaining more time to devote to accreditation administration. The VFMA would also gain a predictable and secure monthly cash flow.'

As a result of the complaints by members, the VFMA has removed almost half the members from its accreditation program. The latest figures on the VFMA website show only 218 accredited members.