Free Range Humane Standards
Firstly we would like to thank the thousands of our wonderful supporters who either sent submissions to ACCC or returned postcards responding to Australian Egg Corporation's push to allow 20,000 hens per hectare to be labelled as free range. ACCC responded to our official complaint by calling for public comment and have had an overwhelming response, with the majority of submissions coming from HSI supporters. we can never overstate how important your contribution has been and if we win this battle the victory will have been secured by your efforts.
The arrogance of Egg Corporation attempting to hijack a term that true free range farmers have spent their lifetimes building is an outrage. The free range demand has grown so dramatically that the large producers want to cash in on this demand, but rather than produce real free range, they want to change the definitions to suit their current factory farming practices.
Under normal circumstances you could complain to the Boards of companies about the actions of their management but the Boards of Egg Corporation and Australian Pork Limited are made up of the large producers. The more animals you kill, the more seats on the Board. So the Board members of these organisations are the ones who will benefit most from redefining free range.
The fact that the Government is not only allowing this but is actually helping Egg Corporation in their deception is scandalous. We have had letters from several State Ministers telling us that they are leaving it to Egg Corporation to sort out definitions and it will be up to the existing free range producers to find a new term to differentiate their product in the market place. So where are the supermarkets in all this - yes you guessed it - they are driving the bus!
As demand has grown so has the pressure from major supermarkets to get a piece of the action. Unfortunately not only do the supermarkets want to stock their shelves with free range labels, they want it as cheap as possible. Coles and Woolworths are now applying the same pressure to free range production: faster, bigger, cheaper.
But there is no such thing as 'cheap' meat or eggs. The true cost of these intensified systems will be borne somewhere and in this case it could be charged to animal welfare, the environment or even your health.
HSI is trying to bring clarity to the free range debate. We are dealing with the real issues at grass roots level and working side by side with farmers to promote a system of farming that fosters community and old fashioned values. We are proud of our farmers and grateful for their dedication to the welfare of their animals and the resulting free range life these chickens, pigs and turkeys get to enjoy.
The support we have had for this campaign has been incredible. One of Australia' s leading law firms has been assisting us at no charge, thousands of businesses have been distributing our information and the public support has been exceptional.
But the kitty has run dry and we desperately need an injection of funds to step up this campaign to clear the final hurdles. We have come so far and are on the verge of a victory that will ensure the integrity of free range labelling into the future. If we lose this battle it will effectively end true free range farming in Australia forever.
Your unwavering support in the past has helped us rescue so many animals in need. The generosity you have shown for a range of animals has enabled us to provide everything needed to bring them back to health and create new lives for them. And because many of these issues focus on the one animal being rescued it is easy for us to convey their suffering to you on a personal level.
But if we win this, it will end the suffering of millions of animals and will ensure sustainable, welfare friendly farming into the future. This will protect the farmers who have put so much work into building this industry, the consumers who seek out ethical produce and of course last but not least, millions of chickens and pigs.
So please give what you can. The next couple of months will shape the future of free range farming in Australia and we really need your help to keep the momentum going. We are fighting big business and big bucks and the costs are mounting.
The consumer has driven the demand for free range so it should be the consumer who decides what goes on the label! Help us make that happen.
Our very best wishes and many thanks
Michael Kennedy and Verna Simpson
To learn more about this campaign or to send your opinion on free range to the ACCC click here