MEDIA RELEASE- 20 February 2018
Animal welfare advocates, farmers, academics and consumers are disappointed that the government department responsible for draft industry standards for poultry welfare released in late 2017 colluded with the industrial livestock industry before the release, and failed to meet expectations to phase out battery cages.
Consumers and animal welfare advocates are appalled by the Draft Standards. Already more than 100,000 submissions have been made, triple the number submitted for other livestock welfare reviews.
The draft was widely expected to follow international moves to ban the battery cage. But in the face of this global trend, Australia has shied away from a once-in-a-generation chance to secure better welfare for poultry since the last review in 2001.
The integrity of the process undertaken by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) was put into question after research by animal welfare scientists was distorted by the drafting group to appear in favour of conventional caged egg production. Industrial caged egg farmers were accused of engaging in ‘systemic collusion’ with the DPI to thwart moves to outlaw battery hens.
One suggested alternative is ‘furnished’ or ‘colony’ cages, which are larger and provide perches, nests and litter for pecking and scratching. But the research on furnished cages was provided by an industry body and only done on 12 flocks, calling into question the independence and comprehensiveness of the studies accompanying the proposed standards.
The European Union announced a ban on battery cages in 1999 and witnessed the completion of that ban in 2012, 20 years after Switzerland became first to phase out battery cages. Alongside them are Canada, New Zealand and the states of California, Michigan and Ohio in the US, where cage-free egg products are a requirement in many retail outlets.
In Australia, major retailers such as McDonald’s, Coles & Woolies have agreed to phase out caged eggs. More than 40 IGA stores have stopped stocking cage eggs. The proportion of caged eggs sold in supermarkets has fallen from 75% to 49% over the past decade and the RSPCA says that 84% of consumers do not want cage eggs.
Clearly consumer awareness and demand for cage-free products are on the rise, and Australian governments are wildly out of step with community sentiment.
AFSA President and free-range pig and cattle farmer Tammi Jonas said, ‘Industrial farmers are understandably worried about the costs of transitioning to cage-free systems, but if farmers are given a reasonable time frame for the transition such as five years, there is no defensible reason not to join the move to improve the ethics of how we treat animals in the food system.’
Tammi Jonas, President 0422 429 362
 December 1 2017, Clive Phillips, The University of Queensland, Proposed poultry standards leave Australia trailing behind other industrialised countries https://theconversation.com/proposed-poultry-standards-leave-australia-trailing-behind-other-industrialised-countries-88302