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Australia: goodbye "eggs in a cage"?

It is expected to be abolished by 2036, however, many farmers are on a war footing

Caged eggs could be phased out across Australia by 2036. Agriculture ministers are meeting to discuss and eventually adopt standards and welfare guidelines for Australian poultry. The regulatory framework was developed over seven years before being finalized last year.

National guidelines state that egg producers should phase out the use of conventional cages for laying hens by 2036 at the latest. However, animal rights advocates say the timeline is still too long, while representatives Industry leaders believe the plan allows farmers to transition too quickly, which will lead to egg shortages and high prices.

Against this, Federal National Party leader David Littleproud requested an extension. "Our ranchers deserve support, not surprises, from state governments," the congressman said. "Farmers have made investment decisions worth millions of dollars, based on current guidelines, believing they have until 2046." However, Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt categorically rejected the assertion that "a ban on cages would result in increases in the price of eggs": "I don't think there is even remotely a probability for these kinds of consequences". which would only be the result of "exaggeration" and "fear", he said. These are, Watt added, "changes that are already taking place and that in some cases will arrive sooner than requested by governments".

Supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles have already pledged that their eggs will be 100% cage-free by 2025. Asked about the pending decision, New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said he would not back any measures that exercise further pressure on household budgets, but he did not say he believed the plan would have such consequences.

Advocates for change say the potential reform is 'long overdue', however many believe it is not enough yet. Alliance for Animals policy director Jed Goodfellow also spoke up.   according to which current agricultural practices "do not reflect modern Australian values, nor the contemporary science of animal welfare". "Over 5 million intelligent, sociable and curious hens - he added - are currently locked up in these small sterile metal cages, each with less than a sheet of A4 paper on which to live for life".

When the standards were first presented last year, Egg Farmers of Australia asked the government to consider changes to the plan, including extending the exit period to 2046 and creating "exit packages". for farmers in transition. Chief Executive Melinda Hashimoto said: "Ten years is a short time, and that could corner many egg producers."

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EFA News - European Food Agency