Latest News

  • 13 Nov 2014 1:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our Humane Choice producers, Rhodavale Pork, will be served at G20 conference lunches as delegates descend on Brisbane and surrounding areas. Congratulations Rhodavale!

    http://www.gympietimes.com.au/news/exodus-slickers-hit-the-bush/2451460/


  • 30 Oct 2014 1:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    South Melbourne Market have decided to ban caged eggs in a move that will be highly beneficial for small egg producers. The markets will not only ban traders from selling caged eggs, but food vendors will no longer be able to use them. 

    All produce available at the markets will be sign posted and display the number of hens per hectare at each farm. Congratulations to our Humane Choice farm, Kangaroo Island Free Range Eggs, featured in the photo!
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/food-drink/south-melbourne-market-not-chicken-to-ban-caged-eggs/story-e6frg8jo-1227106209391

  • 29 Oct 2014 2:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Consumers are driving the growth in free range eggs with demand for free range having jumped 15% in the past five years. While it is great news that consumer demand is such a driving force for change in the industry, there is still much confusion about what is true free range. 

    Read the article here: http://www.farmweekly.com.au/news/agriculture/livestock/general-news/cracking-demand-for-freerange/2715544.aspx?storypage=0


  • 10 Sep 2014 12:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy Valley Free Range has won the 2014 Farmer of the Year Award!

    Joanne Stritch never dreamed of being a farmer, but her passion to deliver to the public pork that was raised in a natural caring environment lead her to create the Happy Valley Free Range farm.  This passion has paid off with her being named Livestock Producer of the Year for Farmer of the Year 2014.  Located in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, Happy Valley is proud about its open farming methods.



    Happy Valley has been a certified Humane Choice farm for almost 3 years, and Joanne says it was important for her to be part of such a valued accreditation scheme.  “Being certified with such a high level true free range certifier says to my customers that we are very serious about raising our pigs properly on pasture, “ Joanne says, “I love to spoil the sows with their piglets and make sure they are well fed, watered, warm and dry.” 

    At the moment, Happy Valley farm has 21 sows.  Joanne is very careful about how she manages her pasture, and encourages and invites visitors to come and see their pigs.  “We’ve had a lot of visitors to see the pigs and took part in the Yarra Valley Food & Wine Festival, with sold out pig tours on both days. People just love coming to see the pigs in the paddocks, playing and grazing as they do.”

    Regular paddock rotations occur, and long spelling of paddocks has ensured the grass cover at the farm has stayed at optimum levels.  The breeding program ensures the wellbeing of sows and piglets at all stages of the process.   “Our breeding program is very natural. The boar and sows all live together in one paddock and the sow is moved to her own private paddock within two weeks of her farrowing date. She lives in her own paddock until the piglets are six to eight weeks old.”

    Happy Valley Free Range is an innovative small producer and the pigs are predominantly sold at Farmers Markets within Victoria.  They have become a part of the Yarra Valley community, and are open and honest about their farming methods, something that has become a rarity in the pork industry. 

    Joanne is keen on bringing people back to pork, and now has regular customers who have only begun eating pork again after having seen the Happy Valley farm and how they raise their pigs.  

    Happy Valley Free Range is a small, but special farm with their social media such as facebook growing every week.  Joanne is also distributing a weekly newsletter with information on farmers markets, recipes and news of life on the farm.  “I don’t want to have a big production, I like that I am the main human interaction with the pigs, that we are like one big family and every sow gets a big belly scratch,” Joanne says. 



    As the winner of one of the Farmer of the Year Awards, Happy Valley Free Range has come a long way for small producers, and is helping to ensure that the best free range practices continue to become a big part of the industry.

    There has been a lot of interest in Humane Choice certification recently, and if you think your farm could be a part of our accreditation scheme head to the Humane Choice website to see our standards:  www.humanechoice.com.au 

     


  • 24 Nov 2013 10:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Egg-cellent news for Consumers

    RASV launches a Free-Range Egg category in its Autumn Fine Food Awards

     

    This year the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) has made an exciting addition to its 2014 Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards (RMFFA) Autumn Program, a Free-Range Egg category and award.

    In an industry first, the RMFFA will bring together an expert panel of judges to evaluate free-range eggs using criteria that are uniquely consumer-focused including taste, flavour and appearance.

    Consumer interest and demand for top quality free-range eggs has increased significantly in recent times and it is currently the fastest growing sector in the egg market. 

    In conjunction with industry experts, the RASV has adopted a definition of free-range eggs that aligns with industry standards and community expectations to form the basis for eligibility and judging for the category.

    RASV CEO Mark O’Sullivan said the introduction of the new category reflected the current climate of consumer interest in Australian free-range eggs.

    “The Free-Range Eggs category has been created in close consultation with industry specialistsand introduced to the 2014 RMFFA Autumn Program as a result of increased consumer demand for theseproducts.  

    “The RASV is delighted to be providing Australian free-range egg producers a platform from which to showcase and market their quality eggs to consumers,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

    Entries for the RMFFA Autumn Program are open from Thursday, 21 November 2013 to Friday, 24 January 2014, with judging to be held in February 2014.

    The RMFFA winners will also have an opportunity to showcase products at the 2014 Royal Melbourne Show in the Taste of Victoria Pavilion or as part of the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Deli Bags.

    For more information, visit http://www.rasv.com.au/Events/RMFF_Home and follow RMFFA on Twitter @RMFFA


  • 13 Aug 2013 12:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thousands of postcards signed by determined South Australians will be presented to the Minister for Business Services and Consumers John Rau today at a Humane Choice Free Range Breakfast.  These postcards represent the overwhelming support received from more than 18,000 South Australian consumers who are determined to endorse truth in labelling for eggs marked ‘free range’, meaning the stocking density would be capped at no more than 1,500 birds per hectare.

    Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice said, “The postcards send a powerful message because they targeted actual free range egg buyers having been distributed in the cartons of eggs produced by our Humane Choice true free range farmers.”  The incredible response from the public verifies that free range egg buyers believe the intensification of free range, and systems that restrict or discourage outdoor access for the hens, simply fail to meet their expectations.

    In June this year Minister Rau proposed a new industry code to settle this debate over a definition for ‘free range’, and once finalised it will make South Australia the only State in the nation to have taken such a critical initiative.  McCosker continued, “We are delighted that thousands of South Australians have shown their strong support towards true free range farmers whose livelihoods have been compromised by the immoral behaviour of large egg corporations and the supermarket giants in their attempt to cash in on the genuine demand for free range produce.”

    Minister Rau has received overwhelming support for his industry code that will only allow eggs produced by farms stocking 1,500 hens per hectare or less to be labelled ‘free range’.  These eggs will stand out proudly on the shelf, clearly marked with the South Australian Free Range label, meaning South Australian consumers will finally be able to pick out true free range eggs easily, without being deceived.

    South Australian’s are the only consumers in the country that will be given the opportunity to easily identify true free range eggs, making an informed purchasing decision.  Now that genuine free range eggs will be easily identifiable, we hope that this translates into real choices being made available on the shelves of the major supermarkets.  Throughout the rest of Australia there is still a confusing abundance of free range claims on eggs.  We hope that this move supported by so many thousands of Australians will encourage the other States and the Federal Government, to finally act and put an end to such unnecessary controversy.


  • 17 Jun 2013 12:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    South Australian Minister for Business Services and Consumers, John Rau, announced yesterday a new industry code to settle the debate over the definition of free range eggs.  The South Australian government has defined free range eggs as coming from hens stocked at 1,500 birds per hectare.  We congratulate Minister Rau for taking the initiative and attempting to put an end to the long running controversy over truth in labelling of free range eggs.

    Free range egg buyers have been at the mercy of large egg corporations seeking to cash in on demand for free range eggs aided by the supermarkets that seem to have taken on the role of industry regulator.

    This proposal gives the power back to the people by allowing them to make an informed buying decision and will encourage the supermarkets to make available a broader selection of eggs in their stores for that to happen.  It would be an interesting exercise to see just how many brands in the supermarket today would meet the criteria for the SA Free Range label.

    “I believe this industry code will actually bring clarity to the free range confusion and those producers that are meeting consumer expectation will stand out from the crowd.  Consumers will then be able to decide if they are willing to pay a little more for what they want, or accept eggs grown under a more intensive operation.  The choice will be made a lot clearer,” said Lee McCosker of Humane Choice*.

    There is still a confusing abundance of free range claims on eggs, many meaning very little, and they are eroding the integrity of the free range industry.  At least South Australian consumers will be able to weed out the less than honest ones.

    *Humane Choice is the certification scheme launched by Humane Society International in 2006 to improve the welfare standards of farm animals across Australia.  The Humane Choice label denotes the animal has had the best life and death offered to any farm animal, treated with respect and care over the entire course of its life.  It ensures the highest standards of animal welfare and guarantees that the animals are truly free range.  Visit www.humanechoice.com.au for more details.


  • 04 Feb 2013 12:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From:Mardirossian Armineh [mailto:AMardirossian@woolworths.com.au]
    Sent:Monday, 4 February 2013 3:07 PM
    Subject:Woolworths' Free Range Eggs

     

    Thank you for writing to us with your concerns about free range eggs. Some of you have engaged in further conversation with me on this matter and in the course of the correspondence it has become evident that there is a lot of confusion on the issue of hen stocking density for free range eggs. Subsequently we have made a decision to provide further information on-pack to help our customers with their purchasing choices.

     

    As explained in my previous email, Woolworths own brand eggs comply with the requirements of the Model Code of Practice for Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry (the Code) for each production system and the products are labelled accordingly.  However, the stocking density for free range eggs stated in the Code does leave room for interpretation of the acceptable maximum density which has led to confusion for both industry and consumers.

     

    The views on maximum density vary between animal welfare advocacy groups and producers. While we don’t believe the decision on maximum stocking density is in our area of expertise, we take our responsibility on clear labelling very seriously and always endeavour to provide our customers with clear information to help them make the choices that are important to them.

     

    To help reduce the confusion for our customers, Woolworths will move to:

     

    • label stocking densities on-pack for our own brand free range eggs sold under Macro and Select brands;
    •  
    • colour code own brand packs according to production system, and
    •  
    • display and label on-shelf by production system separating caged, barn laid and free range.

     

    While we cannot dictate these measures to other brands, we will encourage all brands supplying free range eggs in our stores move to clearly label their stocking density.

     

    More and more customers are choosing free range eggs and the sales are increasing year on year. Last year we saw a 20% increase in free range egg sales. However, caged eggs are still an affordable option for a lot of our customers and constitute 55% of all egg sales. Products on our shelves reflect our customers’ shopping preferences. We have millions of customers with diverse range of values and brand preferences and have a responsibility to meet the expectations of all our customers.  We respect the choices made by all our customers.

     

    Kind regards

    Armineh Mardirossian
    Head of Corporate Responsibility
    Community & Sustainability
    Woolworths Limited


  • 02 Nov 2012 12:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Two years of representations and hard lobbying by Humane Society International (HSI) on behalf of Humane Choice True Free Range producers has culminated in a damning report from the ACCC opposing the intensification of free range egg production.

    The theme throughout the comprehensive ACCC report is that the Australian Egg Corporation’s proposal to increase stocking rates for layer hens to 20,000 birds per hectare will not meet consumer expectations for free range production.

    “Although this has been obvious to the consumer for some time, industry has been relentless in their quest to highjack the term free range because big business had seen the potential to increase their profits substantially by labelling their eggs as free range” said Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice“This is a resounding victory for consumers, farmers and of course the chickens.”

    Of 1,700 submissions received by the ACCC on the proposed Egg Corporation Standards, a staggering 1,693 were in opposition.  There were only 7 submissions in Egg Corporations favour and they were probably by the producers most likely to benefit from the deception.

    “The consumer has sent a very loud message to anyone labelling their eggs free range as well as to the supermarket chains that are promoting stocking rates up to 20,000 birds for their in-house branded free range eggs. Quite simply, label any egg produced in a system with stocking rates higher than 1500 birds per hectare and you are misleading your customers,” said McCosker.

    The report from the ACCC is a welcome relief for true free range producers who were in danger of being put out of business.  NSW, TAS, WA and South Australia all have Bills before parliament capping free range stocking rates at 1500 birds per hectare and the ACCC findings would hopefully push these Bills over the line.

    We would like to thank the thousands of consumers who stood with us on this important issue to protect the integrity of free range farming into the future. “The people have spoken.  It would be a huge mistake by government not to listen,” says McCosker


  • 25 Sep 2012 12:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Humane Society International (HSI) has exposed the Australian Egg Corporation's (AECL) plan to mislead free range egg buyers with their erroneous interpretation of the Model Code of Practice for Animal Welfare.

    Claims by AECL that the code allows for unlimited numbers of hens on the range are nothing more than an attempt to manipulate the wording of the code of practice and deceive the public in the name of profit.

    "AECL have promoted their new plans to increase stocking rates to 20,000 birds per hectare as a responsible control measure when in reality it is nothing more than a deceptive undertaking to intensify free range production," said Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice.

    HSI has sought a legal interpretation of the Model Code, which has confirmed what they have long known to be true, that the code sets a maximum stocking density for layer hens at 1500 hens per hectare.

    "Egg Corporation has attempted to take advantage of the consumers lack of understanding of poultry production systems and that the Model Code applies to both layer and meat birds.  When you are aware of this fact it shines a whole new light on the meaning and the intention of the code of practice," continued McCosker.

    To ensure consumers have their interest represented, HSI has also sought to enlighten all members of parliament with the truth so that they may better represent their constituents by fully understanding this issue.  A copy of the legal advice has been sent to every MP in the country.

    HSI has also brought this deception to the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the application currently before them for a Certification Trademark by the AECL is under investigation.

    "The consumer has driven the demand for free range and it will be the consumer that decides what defines the term.  The ACCC has made sure they have been given a voice on this issue," concluded McCosker.

    AECL, the egg industry peak body, will need to come up with another term for their proposed system and call it something that consumers and genuine free range farmers will accept.


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