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New South Wales Government Criticized for Consultation with Industry on Welfare Standards

12/29/2017

The New South Wales government has engendered criticism for consultation with the egg-production industry of the State regarding new welfare regulations relating to housing of hens.

Animal welfare activists exercised the “Freedom of Information” laws in NSW to obtain communications and reports of meetings which the Animal Law Institute claims to be collusion in the standards-writing process. According to disclosures a NSW Department of Agriculture employee suggested elimination of requirements reminiscent of California Proposition 2 since this would have disqualified conventional battery cages.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals maintains that the process of developing standards was “stage managed” for the benefit of producers. A blatantly unfair provision in the development of standards was a requirement that non-profit organizations would have to pay $3,000 to suggest policy options for aspects of the regulations including stocking density. This provision was characterized by Dr. Thomas Clarke of the Corporate Governance Research Center at the University of Technology in Sydney as “absurd and worrying”. He added “I have never heard of an accountable government anywhere in the world charging for contributions to a policy initiative.”

The situation in Australia where the state governments of Victoria and Western Australia have developed their own independent standards has relevance to the U.S. The egg industry of any nation cannot function effectively over the long term unless there is harmonization of welfare standards with clearly defined nomenclature for alternative systems. EGG-NEWS has reported previously on dissention among producers and confusion among consumers as to what constitutes “free-range” and “pastured” in terms of space allowances.

(SMS 2,117-17 December 29th 2017)