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ACCC Instututes proceedings against free range egg producers [Swan Valley, Eggs by Ellah, Pirovic]

Written by ACCC on 10 December 2013.

ACCC institutes proceedings against free range egg producers

10 December 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed separate proceedings in the Federal Court against egg producers in WA and NSW alleging that each of the producer’s use of “free range” was misleading.

The ACCC alleges that Snowdale Holdings Pty Ltd (Snowdale) in WA and Pirovic Enterprises Pty Ltd (Pirovic) in NSW, through the use of words and images, made false, misleading or deceptive representations by the images and wording on their egg cartons and websites to the effect that the eggs supplied and labelled as “free range” were produced:

  • by hens that were farmed in conditions so that the laying hens were able to move about freely on an open range every day; and/or
  • by hens, most of which moved about freely on an open range on most days.

The ACCC alleges that the eggs supplied by each of Snowdale and Pirovic were produced by hens that were not able to move about freely on an open range each day because of the:

  • stocking densities of the barns the hens were housed in;
  • physical openings of the barns;
  • conditions of the outdoor range; and/or
  • manner in which the hens were trained in the barns. 

The ACCC also alleges that the eggs supplied by each of Snowdale and Pirovic were produced by hens most of which did not move about freely on an open range on most days.

“The ACCC does not have a role in determining whether particular farming practices are appropriate and the ACCC is not debating the merits of cage, barn or free range systems,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC’s concern is simply to ensure that the labelling of eggs accurately reflect the particular farming practices of the producer and the expectations of a consumer making purchasing choices based on those representations.”

“Credence claims such as free range, organic, place of origin or country of origin are all powerful tools for businesses to distinguish their products, but misleading consumers who may pay a premium to purchase such products damages the market and is unfair to competitors.”

“These matters form part of a continuing investigation by the ACCC into free range claims made by egg producers, which has involved the ACCC serving substantiation notices on a number of egg producers that supply eggs labelled as free range,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, implementation of compliance programs, corrective notices and costs against each producer.

The Snowdale proceedings are set down for a directions hearing in Perth on 23 January 2014. The Pirovic proceedings are set down for a directions hearing in Sydney on 4 February 2014.

Background

Snowdale is one of Western Australia’s largest egg producers. It produces eggs labelled as cage eggs, barn laid eggs and free range eggs to various retailers. Pirovic is one of the largest independent egg producers in New South Wales and supplies eggs labelled as cage, barn laid, free range and organic free range and a variety of liquid egg products to retailers nationally.

In April 2013 the ACCC served substantiation notices on a number of egg producers that supplied eggs labelled as free range. A substantiation notice requires a person or business to give information or produce documents that could be capable of substantiating or supporting a claim or representations made in trade of commerce. Following that process and wider investigation, the ACCC is concerned that there are attributes of the farming systems used by some egg producers that indicate that the eggs should not be labelled as free range.

The ACCC considers that a free range claim by any producer is a representation that the eggs were produced by hens that were able to move freely on an open range each day and most of the hens did in fact move freely on that open range.

The ACCC understands that there are a number of farming conditions that impact on whether hens are able to, and do, move freely on an open range each day. The conditions (and their impact) vary between producers and no single condition of itself is conclusive. The relevant conditions include:

  • the internal stocking density of sheds;
  • the conditions of the internal areas the hens are housed in;
  • the number, size and location of any openings to an outdoor area;
  • the time of the day and how regularly the openings are opened;
  • the size and condition of the outdoor area, including any shaded areas, the presence of food, water and different vegetation and ground conditions;
  • the stocking density of any outdoor area; and
  • whether the hens have been trained or conditioned to remain indoors.
Release number: 
MR 288/13
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Court orders fines of $400K for false 'free range' claims

Written by Stephanie Zillman in Agri-Business on 06 November 2013.

Two separate judgements handed down by the Federal Court demonstrate how seriously the court takes false ‘free to roam’ claims.

The Federal Court has ordered Baiada Poultry Pty Ltd and Bartter Enterprises Pty Ltd, the processors and suppliers of Steggles branded chicken products, to pay a total of $400,000 in civil pecuniary penalties.

The Court found that Baiada and Bartter had engaged in “false, misleading and deceptive conduct (or conduct liable to mislead and deceive)” by describing the living conditions of its chickens, as “free to roam in large barns”.

In reality, the Court found that for the initial 42 days (of an average 56 day growth cycle) the chickens were kept in stocking densities which did not allow for “a largely uninhibited ability to move around at will in an aimless manner”.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which instituted proceedings against Baiada and Bartter in 2011, regularly investigates credence claims.

“Credence claims, which represent that a product possesses a premium attribute, are a priority area for the ACCC; particularly those in the food and beverage industry with the potential to influence consumers and disadvantage competitors,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“Consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions that value the types of claims that directly affect the integrity of the product, such as where or how something was made, grown or produced,” Sims said.

The significant fine coincides with a separate Federal Court decision relating to a duck meat supplier, and its own misleading credence claims.

In a claim brought by the ACCC, Luv-a-Duck was found to have contravened Australian Consumer Law (and former Trade Practices Act) and ordered to pay $360,000 in civil pecuniary penalties, as well as $15,000 towards the ACCC’s costs.

The Court found that on its packaging, website, brochures and in a promotion for the Good Food & Wine Show in Adelaide in 2012, Luv-a-Duck had claimed its ducks were:

  •  ‘grown and grain fed in the spacious Victorian Wimmera Wheatlands’; and/or
  • ‘range reared and grain fed’ (which mainly appeared as a logo).

The ACCC argued that these descriptions represented Luv-a-Duck’s duck meat products were or would be processed from ducks that:

  • spent at least a substantial amount of their time outdoors;
  • were raised in a spacious outdoor environment; and
  • were of a different quality than duck meat products processed from barn-raised ducks, when this was not the case.

The Court found that the duck meat products offered for sale and sold by Luv-a-Duck were in fact processed from ducks that did not spend any of their time outside of their barn.

As a result, the representations unfairly gave the company a competitive advantage in the industry.

“This penalty is a further warning to the poultry industry and businesses generally that consumers are entitled to trust that what is said on product packaging and other promotional product material is true and accurate,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Traders who abuse the trust of Australian consumers may also find themselves exposed to similar enforcement action,” she added.

In addition to the penalties and costs, the Court also made consent orders:

  • restraining Luv-a-Duck for a period of three years from using the phrases ‘grown and grain fed in the spacious Victorian Wimmera Wheatlands’ and ‘ranged reared and grain fed’ or modifications of those words when its ducks are not raised in such conditions;
  • requiring Luv-a-Duck to publish corrective notices on its website and business premises and send a corrective notice to its customers; and
  • requiring Luv-a-Duck to implement and maintain a trade practices compliance program for three years.

Luv-a-Duck has a market share of 40 per cent of duck meat products in Australia, selling some 80,000 ducks nationwide per week.

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Free Range change labeled unethical

Written by Caitlin Drysdale on 31 August 2013.

QUEENSLANDERS are in a flap over the quality of their free range eggs.

There is a 667 per cent increase in allowed bird stock densities resulting in what many believe is "Clayton's free range eggs".

More than 3000 electronic postcards have been sent to Premier Campbell Newman in the past 10 days, all expressing outrage at the lack of public consultation over the changes.

The Queensland Government has allowed an increase in chicken stock densities from 1500 per hectare to 10,000 per hectare, effective from July.

However, with this allowing just 1sq m of space per bird, there are increased concerns over the chickens' welfare.

Humane Choice Australia is generating the postcards and believes 1500 birds per hectare should be the standard for what is considered free range.

Chief operating officer Lee McCosker was adamant big business is driving the increase in stock densities.

"Coles is driving this change - they want to be able to label 10,000 birds per hectare as free range," she said.

Roy Inwood, owner of Country Range Farming, near Oakey, said his organic egg farm ran 1000 birds per hectare, and he "totally disagreed" with the change in definition of free range to include up to 10,000 birds per hectare.

"They're hoodwinking the public. We're absolutely devastated, it's absolutely shocking," he said. "They're Clayton's free range eggs.

They're what you call a free range egg when you're not having a free range egg."

With many preferring to purchase free range for social conscience reasons, Ms McCosker said Coles needed to be sent a message, however a Coles spokeswoman said the chicken stock density change balanced welfare and weight gain.

"The only thing that will make it happen is when customers stop buying their eggs," Ms McCosker said.

"They have no social or environmental conscience, it's all about profit."

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A Cracking Good Effort

Written by The Islander on 22 August 2013.

A cracking good effort

  • KI Free Range Eggs

    KI Free Range Eggs

Eighteen thousand postcards signed by South Australians were presented to the Minister for Business Services and Consumers John Rau at a Humane Choice free range breakfast last week. The postcards represented consumers 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.

“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, Lee McCosker, chief operating officer for Humane Choice said.  “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.”

“South Australians 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,” Ms McCosker said.

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RSPCA 'not consulted' on free range chicken move

Written by Amy Remeikis on 01 August 2013.

RSPCA 'not consulted' on free range chicken move

Free range hens not so free

Animal rights groups say Queensland has taken a "giant step backwards" by changing the definition of 'free range' from 1,500 to 10,000 hens per hectare.

The state government's consultation process with the RSPCA on the legislative definition of free range chicken was limited to two meetings.

Last month, the government changed the Animal Care and Protection Regulation Act 2012 to allow an increase in stocking densities for free range hens.

Where once 1500 chickens per hectare was the maximum, now 10,000 chickens per hectare can be kept.

A spokesman for Agriculture Minister John McVeigh said the decision was made after a year-long consultation process which involved the Australian Egg Corp Ltd, Queensland United Egg Producers, free range producers and the RSPCA.

But RSPCA Queensland chief executive Mark Townend said the animal welfare group was never “formally consulted” over the 567 per cent increase.

“There was some discussion, but no formal consultation,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr McVeigh said “representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and RSPCA discussed the proposed changes on 15 October 2012 and 24 April 2013”.

Formal consultation usually involves written responses to a discussion paper prepared by a committee, as well as meetings, before formal recommendations are made to the government. The process can take months.

Mr Townend said it was a “positive of this government, they do try and get things done”, but while the RSPCA discussed management and enforcement of the government's conditions attached to the increase, it was not part of any consultation regarding the increase itself.

“The government could have just made the decision anyway, we have seen that happen a number of times before,” Mr Townend said.

“There was a discussion about some of the improvements for the animal welfare standards and the monitoring process and that is a bonus.”

Mr Townend said he supported the increased monitoring attached to the legislation, but “would have preferred not to have the increase in stocking densities”.

The legislative change has added to the confusion over the definition of free range eggs.

Supermarket giant Coles brand free range eggs allow for 10,000 birds per hectare with each bird allowed “at least a square metre of space” outside and “minimum perching space” inside the sheds.

Coles “does not allow our suppliers to clip the wings of birds laying for Coles brand” but does allow for “a bird's beak to be trimmed in order to prevent pecking which can cause welfare issues in flocks” but a spokesman said it was done “in keeping with recommendations from the RSPCA”.

A spokesman from Woolworths released a one line statement in regards to its practices; “when it comes to free range eggs Woolworths comply with the PISC Model Code of Practice prepared by the CSIRO.”

The RSPCA, while recognising companies like Coles that have made the switch from cage to cage-free eggs with a Good Egg Award, only allows its 'RSPCA Approved Farming' logo on products which “meet and maintain” the group's “higher animal welfare standards”.

But Humane Choice CEO Lee McCosker said Queensland had “gone backwards” with its legislative change and contributed to consumers being misled, while impacting on animal welfare.

“It was a giant step backwards,” she said.

“Queenslanders believed that they had the best stocking density, the best standard for hens and they did.

"Fifteen hundred hens is in line with the best animal welfare accreditation standards that Australia has, it set Queensland up and gave them an actual advantage over the rest of the states and could have offered an advantage for producers against the rest of the country, because they could offer genuine free range eggs to consumers.”

Ms McCosker said consumers needed to be smarter about their shopping.

“You have to shop around and start supporting your local farmer's market, butcher, greengrocer and asking them to source from farms which are accredited to 1500 hens per hectare and provide you assurance that the hens are genuinely free range,” she said.

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'Free Range Eggs' definition scrambled

Written by Amy Remeikis on 29 July 2013.

The term ‘free range’ tends to invoke images of chickens happily squawking and scratching their way across green pastures.

The reality is often a lot less romantic.

The Queensland government recently approved an increase in the stocking densities for free range layer hens.  Where once 1500 chickens per hectare was the maximum, now 10,000 chickens per hectare can claim the same label. 

A spokesman for agricultural minister John McVeigh defended the 567 per cent increase as being based on the national Poultry Code “which state governments agreed to implement in 2002”.

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But it could be a boon for marketers, who are still legally able to use the term ‘free range’ to sell eggs from operations which can increase their layer numbers, without having to increase the provided space.

Queensland University of Technology marketing lecturer, Gary Mortimer, said when it came to “low involvement decisions”, like those made in the supermarket, terms like free range could often make up minds.

“In a supermarket we don’t want to take a lot of time, we see the word free – no matter what words come after, we tend to think ‘free range’ and that it must be good,” he Dr Mortimer.

“Consumers need to be a little more careful with some of the marketing messages they see on products today.”

Australian Greens animal welfare spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said Queenslanders needed to understand what they were buying.

“There is nothing free range about 10,000 hens per hectare, she said.

“As a society we need to be moving towards policies that protect the welfare of animals, not ones that will lead to increased distress, fear, injury, pain and disease.”

Campaigns director of the consumer group Choice, Matt Levey said the Queensland government amendments to the Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012 Act, jeopardised shopper’s trust.

"Consumers have shown they are willing to pay a premium for 'free-range' eggs and yet changes like this make the term meaningless," he said.

But not all marketing terms are used legally - earlier this month, the federal court ruled in favour of the Australian Consumer Commission, which took two of the nation’s largest poultry  producers to task for using the term ‘free to roam”, when in reality, almost 20 chickens were being kept per square metre. 

While marketers would continue “greying the boundaries”, Dr Mortimer said it came down to self-education and consumers doing their own research.

“To some extent the majority of consumers will still look at brand and the price to make a decision,” he said.

“But there is certainly a growing range of ethical consumers who look a little more deeply at organics, genetically modified, free range, hormone free products, not just for the humane reasons, but also for the health and well being of family and children as well.”

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No More Free Range Eggs in Queensland

Written by Humane Choice on 25 July 2013.

No More Free Range Eggs in Queensland

The Queensland government has quietly brought about changes to state regulations that will now ensure the end of true free range egg production in Queensland.

The QLD government has bowed to the pressure of the corporate giants and sold out Queensland family farms, the egg buying consumer and condemned hens to a life of factory farming misery.

Up until now Queensland was applauded for their regulations that stipulated only 1500 hens per hectare for free range farms.  Queensland egg producers actually had an advantage over the other states that allowed higher stocking densities for free range hens.  South Australia has just followed suite and developed a free range labelling system for producers stocking hens at 1500 or less per hectare. Given the public outrage over the industrialization of free range egg production and the current position on this issue by the ACCC, we are appalled that the QLD government has made this move.

The Queensland government has made a mockery of the Model Code of Practice and is effectively allowing the supermarket giants to act as a regulators for the industry. There is no science and no social conscience behind the decision to destroy the Queensland free range egg industry.

“In a perverse way the QLD government has made it just that much easier to make the right choice when you buy free range eggs.  When purchasing eggs at the supermarket, just look at the where they are packed and boycott any free range eggs produced in Queensland.” Says Lee McCosker from Humane Choice.

If you are a Queenslander buy your eggs from the independent supermarkets, butchers, green grocers or farmers markets and ask for an accreditation that ensures the eggs are truly free range.

“Queenslanders have always felt that they didnt need to get behind the push for a nationally accepted standard of 1500 hens as being free range because they thought that’s what they already had.  It’s never too late to send a message to the QLD Government and voice your disapproval.” McCosker said.

Send a 1500 hen postcard www.humanechoice.com.au/postcard

Contact: Lee McCosker 0412326030

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HSI calls on consumers to boycott QLD eggs

Written by Food Magazine on 25 July 2013.

HSI calls on consumers to boycott QLD eggs

Danielle Bowling

Humane Society International is outraged by the Queensland government's recent changes to its free range egg standards, calling on consumers to boycott the industry.

Choice announced yesterday that the Queensland government had increased stocking density for its free range eggs from 1,500 birds per hectare to 10,000 birds per hectare - a 667 percent increase.

HSI, an animal protection agency which earlier in the year delivered 40,000 postcards to the prime minister Julia Gillard in protest of the continued mislabelling of free range eggs, says Queensland is threatening true free range egg production.

"The Queensland government has bowed to the pressure of the corporate giants and sold out Queensland family farms, the egg buying consumer and condemned hens to a life of factory farming misery," HSI said in a statement.

HSI said when Queensland was working to its previous 1,500 hens per hectare standard it had an advantage over other states, but now they're point of difference has been lost, especially considering South Australia recently committed to developing a free range labelling system for producers and stocking densities of 1,500 hens or less per hectare.

The Queensland government is allowing the supermarket duopoly to act as regulators in the industry, HSI said, and is making a mockery of the Model Code of Practice, which is intended as a guide for people responsible for the husbandry of domestic poultry.

Lee McCosker from Humane Choice, the certification scheme launched by HSI, called on consumers to turn their backs on Queensland's egg industry.

"In a perverse way the Queensland government has made it just that much easier to make the right choice when you buy free range eggs.  When purchasing eggs at the supermarket, just look at where they are packed and boycott any free range eggs produced in Queensland," she said.

HSI encourages consumers to buy egss from independent supermarkets, butchers, green grocers and farmers markets and to check they have authentic, reliable accreditation.

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Baiada busted for misleading 'free to roam' claims

Written by Food Magazine on 10 July 2013.

Baiada Poultry and Bartter Enterprises, the processors and suppliers of Steggles chicken products,  misled consumers by claiming their chickens were "free to roam", when really their movements were restricted to an area comparable to an A4 sheet of paper, a court has found.

Following a complaint by the ACCC, the Federal Court found the companies misled consumers by using the term "free to roam" in its marketing campaigns.

The Australian Chicken Meat Federation, the peak industry body for Australia’s chicken meat industry, was also found to have engaged in false, misleading and deceptive conduct by claiming on its website that chickens produced in Australia were ‘free to roam’ or able to ‘roam freely’ in large barns. 

The court found that the ordinary and natural meaning of the phrase ‘free to roam’ is “the largely uninhibited ability of the chickens to move around at will in an aimless manner.” However, Justice Tracey found that at times in their growth cycle the chickens “could not move more than a metre or so (at most) without having their further movement obstructed by a barrier of clustered birds."

Steggles' statistics indicated consistent stocking densities of between 17.4 and 19.6 chickens per square metre. The ACCC alleged that at these densities each chicken, on average, had access to floor space which was less than the size of an A4 sheet of paper and that this was contrary to the representation that they were ‘free to roam’.

The industry has stopped using the 'free to roam' term, but questions still surround the legitimacy of a similar claim - 'free range.'

The ACCC announced earlier this year that it would be placing special attention on credence claims in the food industry including free range claims, country of origin labelling and the labelling of olive oil.

There's been growing interest in the case to clearly define - and introduce standards for - free range labelling. In May, Human Society International delivered 40,000 postcards to the prime minister at the time, Julia Gillard, in protest of the continued mislabelling of free range eggs.

Lee McCosker, chief operating officer for Humane Choice, the certification scheme launched by HSI, said consumer's are becoming increasingly frustrated with misleading labelling and Australia's big retailers and industry bodies, including the Australian Egg Corporation, aren't taking their concerns seriously.

"They have attempted to take advantage of the consumer’s limited knowledge of egg production systems while toying with their concerns for hen welfare and reaping a premium for mislabelled eggs," she said.

HSI has been urging the federal government to take action by legislating a national standard for free range eggs.

South Australia is leading the way here, setting an industry code in June and defining free range eggs as coming from hens stocked at 1,500 birds per hectare.

The proposal, McCosker says, will encourage supermarkets to make a broader selection of eggs available to consumers.

"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," she said.

Other brands penalised for making misleading claims include Luv-a-Duck, which has been accused of deceptive conduct by claiming its ducks are ‘grown and grain fed in the spacious Victorian Wimmera Wheatlands’, when it's been found the animals didn't have substantial access to outdoors.

Fellow duck producer, Pepe's, was fined $40,000 late last year for misleading its consumers and was told it may no longer use the slogan 'grown nature’s way' or 'open range' on its packaging or in its marketing.

Its logo of an 'open range' duck walking towards a lake must also not be used for a period of three years unless it is accompanied by the phrase 'barn raised.'

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South Australia to define free range eggs

Written by ABC on 17 June 2013.

By Tom Fedorowytsch

Updated Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:31am AEST

Consumer groups think a proposed industry code will make buying free-range eggs less confusing for South Australian shoppers.

The SA Government said there had not been a legal definition of the terms "free-range" or "barn-laid" in Australia and it was proposing a voluntary code for egg labelling.

Free-range would mean a maximum of 1,500 hens per hectare, in areas with unrestricted roaming in daylight hours and sufficient shelter.

There also would be a ban on induced moulting.

Angela McDougall of consumer group Choice said shoppers did not expect free-range to allow up to 20,000 birds per hectare in some cases.

"A lot of the product on sale at the moment doesn't have any accreditation whatsoever," she said.

"Consumers are just looking at pictures of green pastures and happy hens and having no idea really if the reality matches the image that's out there.

"They should have the right to have the certainty that they're getting what they pay for when they buy free-range eggs."

Lee McCosker from the group Humane Choice said shoppers may struggle to find appropriately-labelled eggs.

"Initially they may not find it because larger supermarkets generally stock the more intensive-style eggs from the larger producers in the industry," she said.

Hard to compete

Kangaroo Island free-range egg producer Tom Fryar said his business had suffered because larger farms were making the same free-range claims.

"In the last couple of years we've noticed that there's a lot of free-range farms out there with 20,000 and even 40,000 birds a hectare on their range area and that is not free-range," he said.

"The consumers are getting ripped off. It's as simple as that."

Darren Letton runs the Glen View Poultry Farm in the Riverland, which produces both free-range and caged eggs.

He agreed there needed to be a standard, but said any guidelines introduced needed to be in line with other states.

"I mean the eastern states are running huge amounts of chickens in their free-range and calling it free range and then those eggs are coming across and being sold in South Australian supermarkets," he said.

"There is no real level playing field for South Australian free-range egg farmers, but I think 1,500 is not enough, we're not going to be able to compete."

Greens MLC Tammy Franks was pleased with the SA proposal.

"This proposed code is in line with best practices in animal welfare, the maximum density of 1,500 birds per hectare ensuring that birds will not have to be de-beaked and will have the opportunity to exhibit natural behaviours, outdoors as nature intended," she said. 

The SA Government is accepting submissions on its proposal until the middle of July.

Queensland is the only other state to have moved to a free-range standard of 1,500 hens per hectare.

- Additional reporting by ABC Rural

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RSPCA welcomes record cruelty fine

Written by RSPCA on 16 April 2013.

News that one of Australia’s biggest pork producers has been fined a record $225,000 for cruelty has been
welcomed by the RSPCA.

“This horrific case of abuse of farm animals has finally reached its proper conclusion with the courts
acknowledging the seriousness of this incident and imposing a fine of the level not seen before in Australia for
similar cases,” said RSPCA Australia President, Lynne Bradshaw.

The Westpork piggery, based in GinGin Western Australia, was initially charged in 2009 with cruelty under the
Animal Welfare Act 2002 after an employee blew the whistle on appalling conditions in which pigs were being
kept.

Westpork pigs were being housed in filthy conditions with manure and urine piled so high that some became
sick and drowned with surviving pigs eating their carcasses.

Westpork has up to 40,000 pigs on their farm at any one time and supplies around 30 per cent of the local pork
market.

“This is just too sickening for words,” Mrs Bradshaw said today. “Apart from the shocking suffering of these
animals, WA consumers will no doubt be appalled to know where some of their pork has been coming from.

“This fine reflects the community’s expectations that farm animals bred to supply us with food should be treatedhumanely.”

Ms Bradshaw praised the Department of Local Government, which brought the charges against Westpork, and
the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia for their support.

She also questioned the suitability of Westpork General Manager Neil Ferguson to be overseeing the welfare of
farm animals.

“Clearly, there is a management culture there led by Mr Ferguson that has no regard for the welfare of animals,”
Mrs Bradshaw said.

“If Westpork does not completely change its culture now, I see consumers voting with their feet and walking
away from Westpork products.

“The type of practices that have been in use at Westpork and the fine imposed reflects the growing disquiet in the Australian community about the abuse of farm animals.”