Perishable Goods ACCC inquiry
April 26, 2017
Farmers of Australia (EFA) has welcomed the finalisation of the Free-Range Labelling Information Standard.
“The new standard will bring simplicity and clarity to the term free range and it will ensure that when consumers choose to buy free range they will know exactly what they are getting,” said John Dunn, CEO, Egg Farmers of Australia.
“Under the new standard, every farmer must give their hens meaningful and regular access to an outdoor range. Any hen who wants to go outdoors will be able to do so, if she chooses to.
“People will also be able to see on egg cartons how many hens per hectare there are on the farm. Displaying stock density information on egg cartons gives the choice to consumers.
“This is a win for consumers and a win for farmers.
“Consumers will now have confidence that when they buy free-range that’s what they’re getting. They’ll also have more choice with stocking density to be displayed on carton.
“After years of uncertainty, farmers will have the confidence to invest in new free range farming facilities and technologies, such as new environmental controls in sheds to keep hens cool during summer and enrichments to range areas.
“EFA thanks all state consumer affairs ministers for their work and deliberation in agreeing to this standard. We acknowledge in particular, the Federal Government for their leadership in tackling this issue.
“EFA supports consumers in their right to choose which type of eggs they want to buy – whether that be from free range, barn or caged hens.
“We look forward to the new labelling standards being implemented.”
Media Contact: John Dunn
April 13, 2017
The Federal RSPCA has dusted off its campaign against caged egg production, initiating an online petition urging RSPCA subscribers to send a pre-written email to six egg farms across Australia.
Notably, the six egg farms identified farm caged, barn and free range eggs, demonstrating their ongoing responsiveness to consumer demand for different production profiles.
No doubt this latest online campaign will produce many standard emails and before you get drawn into that, you might like to consider the following facts.
Around 26% of shoppers only ever buy caged eggs and 71% purchase caged, barn and free range eggs.
29% of shoppers only ever buy non-caged and free range.
Eggs farmers produce eggs in response to consumer demand. Caged eggs make up more than 50% of production because that’s that product that consumers continue to choose.
Each egg production system has unique advantages in terms of egg quality and animal welfare outcomes. Caged production has many unique advantages that alternate systems can’t achieve.
EFA supports consumers in their right to choose which type of eggs they want to buy – whether that be from free range, barn or caged hens.
If you want to get the facts about caged egg farming, you can check out the attached fact sheet.
February 24, 2017
Dear Egg Farmer
Notice of objection period to deactivate EADR Levy
Recently AECL wrote to all known levy payers informing them of the intention to commence the process to reduce the EADR levy to zero.
Due to outbreaks of Avian Influenza (AI) in 2012, one in ducks in Victoria and two among laying hens in NSW, the Emergency Animal Disease Response (EADR) levy was increased in 2014 from zero to 1.4 cents per chick purchased. The industry liability of approximately $390,503 has now been repaid in full, negating the need for the levy.
As the process to change the levy takes a considerable time, AECL proposes that any levy collected in surplus of the EADR industry liability will be held in trust by Animal Health Australia for use if the Australian egg industry should incur another EADR liability in future.
The Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources has agreed to the commencement of a 30 day objection period to the resetting of the levy. The period will commence on 22 February 2017 and finish on 21 March 2017.
If you wish to record an objection please do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and also to the Department of Agriculture in Canberra email@example.com.
For further information regarding the proposal to assist you in determining whether you wish to object or not, please do not hesitate to contact me on 02 94096904 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 4, 2017
The New Year has started with renewed interest in the upcoming information standard for free range eggs with media reports flagging concerns by interest groups that the new standard will lead to ongoing confusion for consumers. Egg Farmers of Australia (EFA) is urging consumers not to be misled by the wing-flapping of interest groups.
“In March last year Consumer Affairs Ministers from across Australia came together to agree on a national definition for free range eggs. Many different options were considered on what farming system should constitute free range under a national information standard,” said John Dunn, CEO, Egg Farmers of Australia.
“Many argued that free range egg farming should be confined to farms with an external stocking density of 1,500 hens per hectare.
“After an exhaustive examination of the evidence and a lengthy process of public consultation by Treasury, it was decided that this argument could not be substantiated.
“However, that perspective was considered and addressed. Farmers will now be required to display their stocking density on pack. So, when you buy an egg you will be able to choose between stocking densities if that is important to you.
“The requirement for stocking density to be displayed on pack is consistent with labelling changes championed by consumer group CHOICE in a June 2015 report. It’s difficult to understand why they keep moving the goal posts and adding unnecessary conjecture to this process.
“For anyone interested in better understanding how food labelling works, the NSW Food Authority has launched a Food Labelling Hub which provides consumers with unbiased information about a range of products. Accurate information about free range eggs can be found there.”
EFA is a national peak body representing the interests of egg farmers in each state of Australia which represents 80% of egg production. For anyone who has an interest in understanding egg farming, please contact John Dunn.
NSW Food Labelling Hub: http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/foodsafetyandyou/food-labelling
April 20, 2016
Yesterday the Australian Egg Corporation released the following statement regarding the ABC’s Catalyst program, who had allowed one of their guests to casually present misinformation regarding Farming Practices with Chickens. Egg Farmers Australia agrees wholeheartedly with AECL’s statement which you can read below:
“The AECL The Australian Egg Corporation Ltd (AECL) would like to set the record straight on the issue of antibiotics and the egg industry, following some provocative comments on the ABC’s ‘Catalyst’ program last night.
In the story, Professor Lindsay Grayson of Austin Health was quoted as saying:Intensive farming practices, in many ways, have only been possible because of the increased and really inappropriate use of antibiotics. Where you’ve got millions of chickens on a one-acre lot, stacked one above the other, the top lot defecating on those below them, I mean, the spread of organisms is massive.
AECL Managing Director, James Kellaway, said Professor Grayson had painted a picture that was not an accurate reflection of egg farming and the use of antibiotics in the Australian egg industry.
“There is no egg farm in Australia that would have anything near one million let alone several million chickens on a one-acre lot. I am also unaware of any egg farm where the ‘top lot’ defecate ‘on those below them’,” Mr Kellaway said.
“The use of therapeutic antibiotics in the egg industry is very limited and only under the direction of a veterinarian responsible for the health and the welfare of hens and under the strict mandated requirements of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority,” Mr Kellaway said.
Mr Kellaway noted that the movement of more hens into extensive farming systems (free range) compared to more intensive system (cage) had increased the challenges in controlling bacterial disease associated with the faecal-oral cycle and both internal and external parasites.
“Free range poultry do offer the challenges of the re-emergence of historical diseases and challenges with emergency animal diseases like Avian Influenza. These challenges are being accommodated with enhanced and improved husbandry, biosecurity policies and the use of effective and strategic vaccination programs,” he said.
AECL supports the comments in the story made by University of South Australia Microbiologist, Emeritus Professor Mary Barton, that stated:I mean, despite all the mythology about the tons of antibiotics being fed to chickens, it’s a total myth, and, in fact, there are a very restricted range of antibiotics that can be fed, for example, to, well, all chickens, but egg layers in particular.
“The range of antibiotics used in commercial eggs layers in Australia is heavily restricted compared to many other countries throughout the world,” he said.
The whole transcript of the Catalyst story can be viewed here: http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4446258.htm”
You can find AECL’s original statement here: https://www.aecl.org/media/media-releases/news/the-real-story-about-antibiotics-and-laying-hens/
Media Contact: John Coward
April 18, 2016
Egg Farmers Australia has welcomed the decision by Consumer Affairs Ministers on a national information standard for free range eggs.
“This is a commonsense resolution to what has been an unnecessarily complicated issue.” John Coward, Spokesperson for Egg Farmers Australia said.“For any consumers who have been confused about what they are buying this information standard should end that confusion. Free range hens are free. They are free from cages, free to move about inside the barn and importantly they are free to go outside if and when they choose to.
“The decision by Ministers to define free range hens as having meaningful and regular access to an outdoor range where they are free to roam and forage brings commonsense to an emotional debate. Choice for hens is the winner on the basis of this definition.
“Consumers too have secured a win. With the new requirement for stocking density to be mandated on pack, shoppers will be empowered through choice.“Most importantly for industry this provides certainty. The debate on free range has delayed investment in new farms and has placed a hand-break on innovation and productivity.
“I congratulate Federal Minister Kelly O’Dwyer and State Consumer Affairs Ministers for their deliberative and evidence-based approach to this issue. In particular I single out NSW Minister Victor Dominello for his leadership. His engagement on this issue has brought clarity and intellectual rigour to the debate and his consultative approach has ensured that the outcome gives confidence to consumers and certainty to farmers. The farming community acknowledges that without Minister Dominello, this debate would never have been resolved,” added Mr Coward.
April 1, 2016
Egg Farmers Australia welcomes the clarity a decision has brought to Free Range Eggs.
State and Federal Ministers have agreed on a definition which emphasizes that hens must be given meaningful access to the range, which means hens will have the freedom to roam as they please.
For more information on the decision:
Federal Government media release VFF media release NSW Farmers media release AECL media release
October 16, 2015
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 email@example.com
Egg Farmers of Australia (EFA) has welcomed the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) issued today by the Commonwealth Government.
Egg Farmers of Australia spokesman, John Coward, said the industry was keen to ensure certainty on free range eggs and egg labelling for consumers and egg farmers alike.Egg Farmers of Australia has provided a free-range proposal to the government that calls for a prescribed external stocking density of no more than one bird per square metre, as well as good farming practices around access to outdoors and the external environment required for effective free-range egg farming.
“Recent consumer research shows this proposal meets or exceeds the expectations of nearly three quarters of Australian free-range egg buyers. So we have clear evidence the vast majority of consumers accept a free-range egg standard of one bird per square metre,” Mr Coward said.
“With regard to the RIS, we are very pleased the process has commenced and welcome a constructive approach from all parties to ensure egg farmers are able to continue supplying consumers with the affordable and nutritious eggs they love. We believe it is critical that consumers have confidence in the labeling and production system employed by farmers insupplying the market with free-range eggs,” he said.
Egg Farmers of Australia will be considering the contents of the RIS and making a submission on the matter in the near future.
June 12, 2015
Egg Farmers of Australia (EFA) has endorsed the national approach to egg labelling agreed to by State and Federal Ministers for Consumer Affairs this morning.
The Ministers agreed to pursue an enforceable national definition for free range eggs at a meeting in Melbourne.
EFA spokesman John Coward said a national approach would help build consumer confidence in eggs as well as clarity and certainty for egg farmers.
“We want to make sure consumers get what they are paying for. But some people in this debate are forgetting about the rights of egg farmers, who are the experts when it comes to farming. Investment in the free range sector appears to have slowed because of the lack of clarity around the definition of free range,” Mr Coward.
“However, we don’t want to rush into a new labelling system without proper consultation with egg farmers to ensure we get the details right,” he said.
Earlier this week, Egg Farmers of Australia presented Minister Dominello with a new definition of free range agreed to unanimously by the State Egg representative bodies that compromise EFA.
The new definition is: ‘Laying hens in free range farming systems are unconfined within a ventilated hen house. They have access to and are free to roam and forage on an outdoor range area during daylight hours in a managed environment.’
Mr Coward said he hoped for an outcome that would ensure existing free range egg farmers could continue farming to accepted principles.
“But I also hope organisations like Choice will be more accurate in their commentary on this important debate as their misinformation only confuses consumers.”
For media enquiries, please call (02) 9409 6909 or visit www.eggfarmersaustralia.org.
June 10, 2015
Egg Farmers of Australia has endorsed a new definition of free range egg production that will help build consumer confidence and provide certainty for egg farmers.
The new definition, that covers a range of points relating to the management of free range egg farms, was presented to the NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Victor Dominello in a constructive meeting in Sydney this morning.
Egg Farmers of Australia spokesman, John Coward, said he was hopeful that Minister Dominello will take that definition to a meeting of Ministers for Consumer Affairs/Fair Trading in Melbourne on Friday. That meeting will aim to find ways to improve egg labelling in Australia.
”Egg Farmers of Australia believes it is imperative consumers get what they are paying for when it comes to egg purchasing,“ Mr Coward said.
“There has been some confusion regarding the current definition of free range in the Model Code of Practice for Domestic Poultry – 4th Edition (http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/3451.htm) but the new definition agreed to by the majority of the egg industry yesterday, after considerable consultation with all State representative bodies, will aim to improve consumer confidence and egg farmer certainty,” he said.
Mr Coward said the definition (which is pasted below)) contained a number of minimum farm management standards to be met including “outdoor stocking density must not exceed 1 hen per square metre. Where hens are stocked at higher than 1500 hens per hectare, close management must be undertaken and regular rotation of hens onto fresh outdoor range areas should occur with some continuing soil or fodder cover.”
“The egg industry is pleased the Minister will consider progressing such a constructive view of the issue to a national approach to egg labelling. We hope others involved in this debate, such as Choice, will take a constructive and responsible approach on this issue. All we have heard from Choice recently are cheap shots from the sideline that highlight their lack of accountability,” he said.
For media enquiries, please call (02) 9409 6909.