Tuesday, August 27, 2019

More genuine free range farms needed

Chaos in the egg industry is creating wide consumer interest in finding genuine free range eggs and driving shoppers out of supermarkets. Demand for free range eggs has far exceeded supply, leading to widespread mislabelling and deception by some producers. Egg producers in Western Australia are concerned about current prices paid to them by big retailers. They says that cheap cage-free eggs being sold by Coles are 'unrealistic' and unfair. Coles stopped selling caged eggs in Western Australia in March and have said there will be a nationwide phase-out of caged eggs by 2023. Home-brand barn laid eggs are on shelves for $3 per dozen, which Commercial Egg Producers Association of WA president Ian Wilson said did not meet the cost of production. Clear consumer demand for free range eggs has generated a strong increase in the number of people thinking about starting their own free range egg business. A good starting point is reading the eBook on starting a free range farm available on the Freeranger Eggs website Detailed information is available on the Freeranger Club downloads page about things like shed requirements, food safety, egg packaging and labelling. When deciding to set up a free range egg farm, take the time to plan it properly. Find out the zoning of the land and talk to your local Council planning department about their requirements. It’s also worth contacting the State Department of Agriculture. You can find on-line resources in most states. In Victoria, contact: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/farm-management/business-management/permits/guidelines-for-rural-planning-applications. Once that is sorted, talk to your Council Environmental Health Department about any specific requirements they have before you get underway. Details: www.freeranger.com.au

Sunday, August 18, 2019

FSANZ should be scrapped

A spate of recent food recalls of eggs and milk as a result of potential contamination illustrates the failure of Food Standards Australia New Zealand to maintain food safety in this country. The poor performance of FSANZ in protecting consumers from dangerous food practices should result in cost savings when the organisation is disbanded. Politicians and bureaucrats could then start again and design a programme to actually meet food safety requirements. But, that won’t happen. At best, bureaucrats will cobble together a bunch more rules and regulations to add to the melange already created. As with all Government programmes, ad hoc regulations are imposed once failures have been recognised, there are seldom moves to review and redraft the programmes.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Techniques for boosting business in the UK could be adopted here

The UK government has implemented a major funding programme to support the improved performance of industries – including farms. Some egg farms in the North of England have jumped on board because they can see how it can benefit their businesses.Made Smarter is an investment between government and industry which includes match funding opportunities and the provision of dedicated technical and business support for SMEs adopting digital technology, to support advanced manufacturing. The initiative is the result of the Made Smarter Commission - a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the private sector. Bell Mount Farming, based in Penrith, and Eggbase, based in Sedburgh, are among 11 businesses in the North West of England which are set to introduce advanced manufacturing methods. They want to adopt data and analytical technology to boost egg production by ensuring the conditions are optimal for free range hens. It would be a welcome change if our government acted to assist businesses.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Dodgy eggs sold throughout Victoria

A growing number of egg sellers have no idea about food safety requirements designed to protect consumers. Tens of thousands (or perhaps hundreds of thousands) of eggs are sold each week by people who meet no regulations or standards. In Victoria, the Department of Agriculture has clear requirements for egg producers, including the preparation of a Food Safety Management Statement for each property.But many sellers ignore the requirements. The Departments says:”It is preferable that eggs with minor marks are dry cleaned rather than washed”. But if eggs are washed, there should be good temperature control and an approved sanitizer must be used. But the requirements are often ignored as there is currently no inspection process to verify compliance with standards following the State Government decision to remove registration and inspection requirements by Shire Councils.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Freeranger Eggs showing the way on climate change

The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has highlighted the importance of sustainable agriculture. Freeranger Eggs at Grantville is an example of sustainable farming. At Freeranger Eggs, we are doing more than Governments to combat carbon emissions and climate change. Our farm management plan takes a three pillars approach to how the farm operates. Animal welfare is one pillar, but equally important are land sustainability and food safety. Growth is not a part of our philosophy. we need to encourage people to set up more farms, not upscale existing farms. We believe that will support more people working the land fairly and will ensure long-term food security. Despite all the political bickering in Canberra over emissions trading scheme targets, some small businesses have been playing their part in addressing the problem. Freeranger Eggs has been getting on with mitigating the impact of carbon emissions. The farm's carbon footprint is limited by imposing a food miles policy for deliveries, using recycled materials and equipment whenever possible, utilising solar power and mechanical processes and an effective waste reduction programme. As a result, the 1200-chicken 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 carried 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. Rotational grazing is practised on the pastures – 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 regeneration of Kangaroo Apples (Solanum laciniatum) 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. Loss of biological diversity in agriculture is a growing global problem. The lack of diversity created by monocultures and a dependence on costly agrochemicals, fertilisers and seeds, is resulting in the loss of genetic heritage in agriculture. The Freeranger farm is a true free range operation with small flocks of chickens in separate paddocks with mobile roost houses where eggs are laid. An eBook is available on setting up free range eggs farm s and we are developing a series of webinars. Crowd funding is being sought to prepare the webinars . Details on the freeranger eggs website. Www.freeranger.com.au Freeranger Eggs gained international recognition in 2012 as the Australian winner of the Energy Globe Award.