Today the Australian Egg Corporation (AECL) convened its Board Forum in Adelaide to an empty room.
AECL sought attendance by all South Australian egg producers at the forum but the majority of producers have boycotted the meeting. The greatest number of egg producers in South Australia are free range farmers who wish to send a clear message to the Board of AECL that they have no confidence in AECL’s ability to represent the interests of genuine free range producers.
“There are 18 free range egg farmers in SA following the guidelines of our Humane Choice Standard or the Model Code of Practice, and have modelled their production systems around stocking densities no higher than 1,500 birds per hectare. These farms represent the majority of producers for this state,” said Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice and spokesperson for SA producers. “These farmers stand to be put out of business by the very organisation that purport to stand beside them should 20,000 hens per hectare become accepted practice and define free range,” continued McCosker.
AECL are struggling to gain any acceptance for their new egg standard that would allow the massive stocking rate increases. Producers have shunned them and are embarrassed by AECL’s attempts to scam consumers, and rightly so. The ACCC has put a hold on the AECL Certification Trademark and called for public comment on the new egg standard, and consumers registered their anger and disbelief at the proposal by AECL in vast numbers.
“Free range producers have offered a very simple solution to this egg labelling dilemma: simply call it something else. No one is saying they can’t produce eggs under these intensive outdoor systems, just be honest and label accordingly,” said McCosker.