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News 866 views last update:Oct 22, 2008

AUS: disagreement over free-range standard

A disagreement has arisen in the Australian pig industry over what constitutes a free-range standard for pigs.

The Free-Range Pork Farmers Association President, Ms Lee McCosker, said the country's chief industry body - Australian Pork Ltd (APL) in representing the interests of its members - was delaying making a decision over a standard for free-range pigs. McCosker added that a standard would "bring more attention to the current intensive system”, and APL members are mostly intensive pig producers.

Blurry description
She said that having a free-range standard did not suit the APL, and she thought the APL was blurring the description of free-range to allow more eco-shed producers to call themselves free-range because it would place the pork industry in a better light.

Eco-shed management, she said, was far more humane than intensive production and it was unfortunate that producers raising pigs in this way could call themselves free-range. In eco-shed accommodation, the housing can be open-ended; having large windows which can be opened in warm weather with straw on the concrete rather than bare concrete. In these conditions the pigs have no outside access.

Free-range standard inflexible
In response to Lee McCosker's position, the Chief Executive of APL, Andrew Spencer, admitted that the industry needed more consistency over what constituted a free-range standard, but said a legal free-range standard would be inflexible and it was preferable to have a market-based approach in line with community and scientific standards.

He added that consumers would have to become better informed about pig production if they were to get what they wanted when they purchased pork products.

Related Website
APL
Free-range Pork Farmers Association

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