Saturday, October 31, 2015

Closing date for 'free range' submissions November 2

Consumers and egg farmers who want to make their views known about what the term 'free range' means only have until Nobemberf 2 to get their submissions in to State and Federal Ministers. Make your submission to the Ministers here;

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Small buiness and farms do more to limit carbon emissions than the Australian Government

Despite all the political bickering in Canberra over emissions trading scheme targets, some small businesses and farms have been getting on with the task of mitigating the impact of carbon emissions. At Freeranger Eggs, the farm's carbon footprint is limited by imposing a food miles policy for deliveries, using recycled materials and equipment whenever possible, using solar power and mechanical processes - such as collecting eggs by hand and hand cultivation of the farm vegetable garden - as well as an effective waste reduction program. As a result, the 1200 - chook farm generates only about 60 tonnes of CO2 each year. But it is better than carbon neutral, it is carbon positive. The average organic matter in soil tests was 4.1 per cent in 2004, in 2006 it was 6.0 per cent, and in 2009 it was 7.9 percent. Calculations based on 2-inch deep samples, show that over those five years the farm sequestered about 14 tons of CO2 per acre or four tonnes of carbon per acre on the grasslands. Further testing and calculations have not been conducted because there has been a total lack of interest in the results. The farm applies no chemical fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides and this policy increases the biological life in the soil and increases the rate of carbon sequestration. All manure is spread on the pastures and in the farm vegetable garden, minimising methane emissions. Rotational grazing is practised on the pastures which has a variable effect with each rotation – taking advantage of photosynthesis to pull CO2 into the plants and then into the roots from where it transfers to the soil. In addition, every year at least another tonne of CO2 per acre continues to be sequestered by the regular growth and replacement of Kangaroo Apples in the main paddocks. Native vegetation has been protected on approximately 100 acres of the property and regeneration there sequesters a further tonne of CO2 per acre. This brings a grand total of 1500 tonnes of CO2 sequestered on this property over five years – an average rate of 300 tonnes per year compared with the farm's carbon output of around 60 tonnes. On days of full sun the solar panels on the farm shed generate 13 - 17kW of electricity a day and as on average the farm consumes just 9kW a day it helps the bottom line. How's that for being carbon positive! A net carbon benefit of 240 tonnes of CO2 per year from just one farm. Full details on the farm website

Friday, October 23, 2015

Changes to egg standards could force many small producers out of business

Genuine, small scale free range egg farmers may be forced out of business if Ministers for Fair Trading adopt some of the options being considered for the definition of 'free range' Here's a guidance document from Choice about New 'free range' standards. If adopted, the exclusions on pages 20 and 21 would make the exercise useless. The big boys will keep doing what they are now. Compliance costs for small producers will be enormous - at least an additional $2000 per farm per year and we will have to add information on our labels. Effectively, if the possible exclusions are allowed it will just enable major producers to keep conning consumers. Of the options presented, the best is Option 1. to maintain the status quo and allow the ACCC to continue prosecuting those producers who make false claims and mislabel their eggs. One helpful addition to that would be to ensure that penalties are applied to each breach – so that for a business selling a million dozen falsely labelled eggs, the fine should be multiplied by a million. By far the best choice for Ministers is to enshrine into law the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Domestic Poultry. That will provide clarity and certainty for the industry and consumers. Any definition needs to be simple and clear cut with measurable standards. Once variables and exclusions are introduced, loopholes are created which will be exploited in exactly the same way as currently happens. Unless the standards are simple to audit, the process will be extremely complex and costly. Submissions can be lodged on line at…/…/2015/Free-range-egg-labelling

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Major egg producers trying to con Federal and State Ministers over egg standards

Major egg producers have organised their submission to the Federal Government and State Ministers for Consumer Affairs on production standards for free range eggs. Their proposal (if accepted by the Ministers) would make it even easier for unscrupulous egg producers to dupe consumers and provide them with some protection from prosecution by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Their views run counter to those of free range egg farmers – and many consumers. Here is the media release from Egg Farmers Australia with their propsed definition: 16 October 2015   AUSTRALIAN EGG FARMERS UNITED ON FREE RANGE   Representatives of Egg Farmers Australia have reaffirmed their unity on a definition for free range in response to the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement on Free Range egg labelling (RIS). Representatives from Egg Farmers Australia met in Sydney yesterday (Thursday) to discuss an industry response to the RIS and affirmed that they were united in their approach. EFA spokesperson John Coward said: “Australian egg farmers are committed to getting consumers the egg they want with information they understand. We want consumers to have complete confidence in the production systems which underpin free range and the labelling that is used to describe those eggs. “ “I want every consumer to know that Egg Farmers Australia has heard the calls for clarity. And we have responded. “Today, farmers from across Australia stand together and call for an end to the confusion on free range eggs. We are proud of the eggs we produce and we stand behind our production systems.  “Our farms do not exist without our customers - earning and retaining their confidence is core business for us. “As a result of our meeting we have agreed to ask Treasury to formally legislate in Australian Consumer Law the EFA definition of free range. “Our definition is that laying hens have access to and are free to roam and forage on an outdoor range area during daylight hours in a managed environment. “Getting the definition right is a critical one for our industry - it’s important to strike a balance between providing surety for our farmers and transparency for our consumers,” Mr Coward concluded. EFA members are the Victorian Farmers’ Federation Egg Group, NSW Farmers’ Association Egg Committee, Commercial Egg Producers Association of Western Australia, Tasmanian Commercial Egg Producers Association, Queensland United Egg Producers and South Australian Local Egg Section.   Media Contact: John Coward or 0407 622 166 Anyone who would like to express an opinion on what they think 'free range' should mean, please make a submission to the Government enwquiry. You can do that on line at

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Call for submissions on "free range' definition

Now's your chance to help create a realistic definition for the eggs you choose to buy, The Federal Government is undertaking a consultation period which ends on November 2 to help Ministers establish effective egg labelling laws. The most important change is to ensure thefre is a clear and simple definition for free range eggs. The consultation aims to gather additional evidence on the extent of the problem and the likely impacts of the proposed policy options including likely costs and benefits to consumers, producers and other stakeholders. The evidence will then be used to assess the regulatory impact of any information standard. You can make an online submission here: Our view is staightforward - enshrine the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals - Domestic Poultry, that's all the Ministers need to do to drive the crooks out of the industry and give consumers certainty when they buy eggs. The last thing all of us in the industry need is more labelling regulations - there is already too much clutter on labels. Suggestions that producers should include a chicken stocking density on the label is absurd. As long as a density is legislated, that's all that's needed. Unscrupulous producers currently put anything they like on their labels even though the claims are false. So adding a stocking density on labels will not provide any more certainty for consumers. Shonky producers will not hesitate to include a false stocking density if required by new regulations.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Call for independent investigation into Hospital bombing in Afghanistan

If the Australian Government has any guts it will lodge an official request with the United Nations for an independent investigation into the bombing of the MSF Hospital in Afghanistan. This appears to be a a war crime which should not be covered up by a dodgy inquiry.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Sustainability and economics

In many opinions, Western society has been in decline for decades (if not centuries) but we do seem to be heading towards the abyss at an ever increasing speed. Australia is probably a reasonable reflection of what is happening elsewhere (at least if the drivel in newspapers and on television is any guide. There is little real political choice when it comes to elections as all party hacks scramble for the 'middle ground' In Australia there is virtually nothing to choose on economic policies between the Liberal/National coalition government and the Labor opposition. Both also have almost identical policies on defence (which would better be described as aggression). They both endorse any action required by the US. Despite claimed financial constraints, unlimited funds are always found for military adventures. Politicians are happy to send young men to fight, even if the wars are unwinnable – such as Afghanistan and the current Middle East debacle. The whole IS fiasco is a result of the actions of the US, Britain and Australia. Following the intervention in Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq and the destabilisation of Libya and Syria the world has been embroiled in terrorist activities. The whole system of western governments is dominated by economics. All activities are reduced to a dollar value. The chase for ever-increasing GDP and all other financial indicators locks us in to a perpetual spiral of booms and busts). There may be a few years of growth between the cycles such as between the 1930's depression and the recent so-called Global Financial Crisis – brought about by corporate greed and political stupidity. Continual economic growth is not possible, but no politician is brave enough to admit it. Steady State Economics presents a different view of how we could run the world, instead of chasing the illusion of perpetual growth. It offers the concept of an economy that is completely sustainable. A community with a size and structure that doesn't grow, but remains stable to match the limits of the natural environment and its resources. Steady State Economics presents a different view of how we could run the world, instead of chasing the illusion of perpetual growth. It offers the concept of an economy that is completely sustainable. A community with a size and structure that doesn't grow, but remains stable to match the limits of the natural environment and its resources. Greed and self-interest led to the last global financial meltdown. It was an inevitable result of Government policies, big business demands, and mass gullibility. It will happen again (and again) unless Governments, industrialists, commercial interests and individuals choose a different path from the God 'growth'. The same greed resulted in a pathetic and useless outcome from the climate change talks in Copenhagen. It has also brought us the fiscal nonsense of 'quantitative Easing', derivatives trading and the crooked financial advisers favourite con of 'margin lending'. Traditionally, economics taught in our universities has been based on an assumption that continuous growth is the only way to generate a better life for everyone on the planet. It argues that growth will raise living standards, lift people out of poverty whilst the cycle of supply and demand will solve environmental problems and the depletion of world resources. The classic view is that exponential growth is good and fast growth is even better. Advocates of steady-state economics dispute this view. One of the first was John Stuart Mill in the 19th century and he has been followed by people like Herman Daly who maintains that the economy is a subset of our ecosystem. The global ecosystem is finite, a closed system which cannot grow. Matter neither enters nor leaves it. The ecosystem also provides the economy’s resources and a sink for its wastes. Continuous growth forces a collapse in the ecosystem which then becomes unable to support the economy and the community. Some who question the current economic system, note that the ecology of the planet is increasingly under pressure, with natural resources such as forests, fish stocks, minerals and soil being depleted at alarming rates. Land for food production is increasingly scarce and pollution levels are making water and air unusable or unsafe.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Australia should pull all troops out of the Middle East

How dare the Americans criticise Russia for bombing terrorists in Syria when US-led coalition forces deliberately targetted a hospital in Afghanistan. Enough is enough, the Australian Government should immediately withdraw its support for military action in the Middle East which is doing nothing but increase tensions, resentment and even hatred for our western so-called civilisation. The most effective way to counter the radicalisation of Muslim youths is to stop killing people in the Middle East. Australians have no business being there, The rise of ISIL can be directly related to the war in Afghanistan, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the destabilisation of Libya and Syria. It is the fault of our Government, the US and UK. We will all be paying a terrible price for years to come. Quite apart from the human pain caused by generating this conflict, the financial cost is horrendous. Australian can easily save more than $15 billion a year by scaling down our military extravagances. A realistic look at Australia's defence requirements, taking likely threats into account, demonstrates where significant savings could be made. We currently do not have a defence department or a Defence Minister, they are rather a War Department and Minister. A strategic look at our defence requirements is what's needed for the Government to get a grip on reality.