INDEPENDENT NEWS

A Sad Christmas for Battery Hens

Published: Thu 23 Dec 2004 08:22 AM
A Sad Christmas for Battery Hens
The Soil and Health Association of New Zealand is appalled at the further barbaric backward step announced by Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton, with the dropping of the 2023 ban on battery egg production.
On top of recent high compliance cost NZFSA requirements, laid on the free range happy egg producers, this is supporting the cruel big battery egg business, said Soil & Health Co-chair Steffan Browning.
Unnecessary NZFSA requirements mean less free range hens will be about and yet the battery egg producers will be all smiles as they get a no battery ban Christmas present for their lobbying.
Millions more hens are destined for unecessary confinement and mutilation due to lobbying by the battery egg dominated Egg Producers Federation (EPF).
This flies in the face of our clean green image and the trends by important trading partners of phasing out battery farming, said Mr Browning.
New Zealanders were a humane people and the Close-up @ 7 poll last night had a huge 95% response for banning battery production. In 2002, another poll had 79% opposed to battery production.
Mr Sutton would be wise to encourage humane free range egg production.
Exemptions from pointless NZFSA bureacracy for larger free range flocks, combined with phasing out of battery hens would produce much better polls said Steffan Browning.
Mr Sutton can make an exemption from NZFSA Risk Management Programs for small to medium egg producers. A sop in the form of an exemption for gate sales has been offered but is unrealisticly limited.
A clear labelling system for eggs, to allow for tracking from nest box to plate with guidelines would suffice for the needs identified by NZFSA.
The Minister could have also phased out the discretionary clause in the Animal Welfare Act that has allowed this indefinate continuance of battery egg production. The right decisions on Mr Suttons part can prevent the loss of an important part of rural life and promote environmental, social and economic balance, said Soil & Health Co-chair Steffan Browning.
Soil & Health advocate the use of free range hens as part of healthy farm diversity, the antithesis of antibiotic maintained battery farm production.

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