Free range not 'fake range'
A Private Member’s Bill seeking to separate true free range eggs from “fake range” eggs in the marketplace is being introduced to Federal Parliament in February by the Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.
The Nick Xenophon Team MP plans to lodge her Competition and Consumer Amendment (Free Range Eggs) Bill 2018 when Parliament returns next week.
“I want to make sure that when consumers go into a store and buy eggs that have been marketed as ‘free range’ that they really are buying eggs laid by hens that move freely during daylight hours on most days,” Rebekha said.
“My legislation seeks to amend the labelling laws to tighten what can and cannot be marketed as free range.”
Rebekha drafted the Bill after being approached last year by small-scale free range producers in her electorate.
Growers claimed they were being squeezed out of the free range market because bigger producers were marketing their eggs as “free range” when their growing conditions fell short of internationally observed standards recommended by the RSPCA and the Humane Society International.
“If people doing their shopping on a Saturday morning knew how ‘free range’ was currently defined, they would be very surprised,” Rebekha said.
“The Government recently signed off on a definition that is intentionally broad.
“The free range eggs you buy in Australia wouldn’t be considered free range in the UK, or in Europe.
“And the end result is that consumer expectations are not being met and small egg producers who are hurting financially.
“My goal is to promote transparency.
“I just want everyone doing their shopping to have all the relevant information so they can make an informed choice.
“The bonus of this legislation is that it will benefit small egg producers.”
It is up the Government to decide which legislation is debated and voted on in Parliament.
However, once the Bill is lodged, Rebekha will begin advocating Ministers and regional MPs for its adoption.
“I will be talking to the new Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and I’ll be talking with Assistant Minister Anne Ruston,” she said.
“I’ll be looking for support from members of the Opposition and the Cross Bench to get this Bill debated and voted on in Parliament.”
The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Free Range Eggs) Bill 2018 seeks to:
- Ensure eggs marketed as ‘free range’ are eggs laid by hens that are able to, and do in fact, move freely on an open range during daylight hours on most days.
- Ensure eggs marketed as ‘free range’ are laid from hens subject to a stocking density of no more than 1,500 hens per hectare, and that the stocking density information is displayed on egg labels prominently in a ‘hens per hectare’ format.
- Enable eggs that are not cage eggs but do not meet the definition of free range to be marketed as ‘access to range’.