The West

Egg-cellent outcome for free range farmers
Egg-cellent outcome for free range farmers

Egg farmers are claiming a victory after the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission rejected a bid to relax standards for what eggs could be called free range.

Free-Range Egg Association of WA chair and Margaret River farmer Jan Harwood said despite the victory, truth in labelling was still required.

“This has reinforced everything that we and the consumers have been saying since 2010 when the (Australian Egg Corporation) started allowing huge increases in stock densities in free-range egg production.”

Mrs Harwood’s group has been fighting the bid to raise the threshold in hens per hectare for what counts as free range, with her preference for 1500 hens per hectare compared to 20,000 preferred by mainstream egg farmers.

She said the court victory against the Australian Egg Corporation was an issue for WA Agriculture Minister Terry Redman, who she beleived consistently declined to act.

Greens spokeswoman Lynn MacLaren backed Mrs Harwood’s stand, with a Bill proposed to enshrine limits on what could be classed free range.

“This strengthens the case for our Bill and I encourage consumers to contact their local MPs and to voice their support,” she told the Times.

However, Mr Redman said he stood by his belief the free-range moniker was an industry marketing term.

“I do not support enacting legislation to define this term,” he said.

The ACCC decision would provide clarity on how the industry should define the free-range title and he believed low density farmers could differentiate their product.

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