Friday, August 19, 2016

Australian ministers allow massive land degredation

Intensive egg production standards approved by Ministers for Consumer Affairs and the former Federal Minister for Small Business may lead to extensive land degredation across Australia. The Ministers have allowed farms with 10,000 hens per hectare to legally describe the eggs they produce as free range. But their decision was made without regard for the level of contamination caused by high nutrient loads. At the approved outdoor stocking density the hens will produce 5000 cubic metres of manure a year on each hectare and the nutrient mass balance on the land will be totally unsustainable. Nitrogen will be spread at the rate of 1780kg per hectare. Phosphorus at 7000 kg potassium at 3520kg and sulphur at 1760kg.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New standards to replace Australia's Model Code for Poultry

New animal welfare standards and guidelines are being drafted for poultry – to replace the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry). One benefit of the new standards will be that they will be supposed to apply evenly throughout Australia, instead of the fragmented adoption of regulations in the Model Code. Animal Health Australia is developing the new standards, which it says will provide a basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia, and provide guidance for all people responsible for poultry. They will aim to reflect contemporary scientific knowledge, provide competent animal husbandry advice, meet mainstream community expectations, that can be maintained and enforced in a consistent, cost-effective manner. The rationale is to achieve a measurable increase in best practice guidelines and industry verification systems and tools for animal welfare to support market access and to ensure that consistent and harmonised animal welfare arrangements across jurisdictions deliver consistent outcomes. The development process will allow industry to examine poultry welfare issues and determine a suitable industry position that meets community expectations. The Australian state and territory governments are responsible for the regulation of animal welfare in Australia. Under the Federal Constitution, States and Territories have the primary jurisdiction for animal welfare within Australia. A stakeholder Advisory group will be established to assist with the development of the standards which are expected to provide the basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia. It remains to be seen how effective the new standards will be, but we can live in hope that they will be fair and workable.Public consultation is expected to begin in November but decisions have probably already been made to adopt standards favoured by the corporate producers.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Free range debate should be about much more than animal welfare

The free range egg debate has been hijacked by animal welfare activists – and academic researchers are putting all their efforts into demonstrating that low stocking densities don't necessarily produce better welfare outcomes. We believe that the focus should be on land sustainability. Intensive systems are more likely to lead to land degredation and pollution – limiting the life of any farming venture and the viability of the land. What seems to be ignored is that a fully grown hen produces about half a metre of manure a year – so 10,000 hens per hectare deposit 5000 cubic metres of manure on each hectare of land. The excessive nutrient load is likely to transform the farm into an unproductive wasteland. Unfortunately free range farmers were unable to agree on a cohesive approach and left the lobbying of politicians and bureaucrats to the industrial-scale egg producers, grocers and animal welfare groups. So free range farmers really only have themselves to blame for the current mess.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Freeranger Club helps free range egg farmers

The Freeranger Club has been established to help anyone producing free range eggs in Australia or planning to set up a free range farm. There has been growing demand for information following the ridiculous decision on a free range standard made by Australia's incompetent Ministers for Consumer Affairs and Small Business. Details are on the Freeranger Eggs website

Sunday, July 03, 2016

ACCC waiting to pounce on more dodgy free range egg producers

Free Range egg farmers in Australia who follow the outdoor stocking densities set out by Ministers for Consumer Affairs and the Federal Minister for Small Business, in their recent decision on a free range standard are likely to face prosecution by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The ACCC has produced a guide to help hen egg farmers of all sizes understand their fair trading rights and obligations when promoting or selling free range eggs. The guide also informs consumers and the public about the ACCC’s approach to free range egg claims, which are made on labels. On 31 March 2016 Australian Consumer Affairs Ministers said they wanted an information standard for free range eggs to be in place within 12 months. The information standard is not currently enforceable as reforms to give effect to the new regulations have not been introduced or passed by Parliament. The ACCC will amend its guidance as the information standard progresses.…/accc-enforcement-guidance-free-range-…

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Time for big changes in Canberra

With pre polling booths now open, Australians are getting a real chance to send a message to Canberra. An informal vote looks very attractive! Voting for an army of independents is also a good option. It doesn't matter who forms Government – bureaucrats run the show anyway. Hopefully voters in the seat of Higgins will send politicians a message by dumping Small Business Minister Kelly O'Dwyer after she turned her back on small farm businesses in favour of big corporations in the ‘free range’ debacle. and voters in New England have the opportunity to get rid of Barnaby Joyce who is less than adequate as Deputy PM. It's way past time for some fundamental changes to our constitution to reduce costs for the economy. We don't need the current duplication of services in Canberra and the States. About the only function which needs to be administered Federally is defence. State Governments deliver all other services – including health and education so it makes no sense to pay for an army of bureaucrats and Ministers in Canberra who do little but polish chairs with their backsides and hold out their hands to grab our money. The duties of a Federal Government could be adequately performed by the Council of Australian Governments COAG. This would save billions of dollars every year.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Egg farmers could be heading for trouble if they adopt the new 'free range' standards proposed by Ministers.

Egg farmers who follow the new 'free range' standards proposed by Ministers for Consumer Affairs and the Federal Small Business Minister Kelly O'Dwyer could face trouble with planning laws as well as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. I wrote to Victoria's Planning Minister Richard Wynne, asking if the Minister could intervene in the decision to allow egg producers with stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare to be classified as free range instead of the accepted standard of 1500 hens per hectare. Mr Nick Wimbush, Acting Executive Director,Planning and Building Systems of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning responded, saying “It is not possible for the Minister to issue a directive regarding free range egg production as each proposal must be considered on its individual merits and circumstances in line with land use definitions. However, he said “changes to national labelling laws do not change these land use definitions or the farming zone. I recommend that an egg farmer considering increasing their stocking density in response to the labelling law changes contact the planning department of their municipal council for advice about whether planning approval will be required.” The ACCC has already said that it will review is guidelines for free range egg production in light of the recent ministerial decision. ACCC action in the Federal Court resulted in several fines of $300,000 against businesses which falsely labelled their eggs as free range.