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Egg farmers angry at expensive cage changes 
By wanghuan on May 28, 2013 06:34 AM
Egg farmers angry at expensive cage changesPETER CAVE: By 2008, most egg producers around Australia will be required to increase cage sizes from 450 square centimetres per bird to 550 square centimetres, in an effort to improve conditions for battery hens.


The new law means that farmers will have to build bigger sheds, sell their businesses, or move to new sites, all of which they say is prohibitively expensive for an industry already in decline.


Emma Alberici reports.


EMMA ALBERICI: Australia's $300million a year egg industry is facing its biggest change in 25 years. It will improve conditions for the country's laying hens, but it could send hundreds of farmers to the wall.


WARREN STARICK: There used to be 80 producers in South Australia about three, four years ago, and I'd say in 2008 we'll probably be down to about 10, at the most.


EMMA ALBERICI: By 2008 most Australian farmers will be required to increase cage sizes from 450 square centimetres per bird to 550 square centimetres.


South Australian Farmers' Federation poultry section chair Warren Starick will stop producing eggs on his Cambrai farm by the end of the year. He says he simply can't afford to upgrade his equipment to satisfy the new laws.


WARREN STARICK: The investment is literally millions of dollars, and so that uncertainty's contributed, plus of course what happened when the new legislation was announced, equity in our farms virtually disappeared overnight.


The illustration I often give is that imagine if every car in Australia had to have airbags in michael kors bags three years' time those cars that didn't have airbags would simply become valueless.


EMMA ALBERICI: The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)'s chief scientist, Dr Bidda Jones, says farmers have had at least seven years to adjust to the new laws.


BIDDA JONES: The changes were negotiated back in 2000. The code that is introducing the cage sizes were published in 2002.


Farmers have known about these changes for a long time. They agreed to them when negotiations started over changes to the code, and I have to say that the RSPCA at that time, we were seeking a ban on the use of cages, and the changes that were made were a very, very small concession, and nothing like what we were looking for.


EMMA ALBERICI: Current standards require egg farmers to provide wire mesh cages just 40 centimetres high, with a floor area per michael kors diaper bag bird of 450 square centimetres, roughly the size of a cardboard fruit box.


The new laws will give the hens 550 square centimetres. Bidda Jones says while it's only a small gain for the Animal Welfare Lobby, it's a gain nonetheless.


BIDDA JONES: What the changes that are coming in will do, they will allow hens finally, the hens that are still kept in cages, to stand up fully. Now, they haven't been able to do that in the cages that are currently being used.


EMMA ALBERICI: michael kors canada outlet Mallee egg farmer Warren Starick again.


WARREN STARICK: The proposed changes are only marginal improvements in animal welfare, and that's also making it difficult for farmers to understand michael kors handbags why these changes have been forced on them.


EMMA ALBERICI: The RSPCA says it will continue its fight to ban cages altogether.


WARREN STARICK: That's the other dilemma we face of course, is that we've gone through all michael kors outlet these changes, we have farmers both here and interstate spending literally millions of dollars upgrading their farms, and we need ?those farms will need at least a 20year period to recover the cost of those new equipment. And I mean, if we're going to have this debate and this moving of the goalposts every five, ten years, it's going to make life very difficult for those people.
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