Farmers: Ian Littleton
Growing: Free-range eggs
Location: Pitt Town, Sydney
Method: ACO certified free range
In what ways are Clarendon Farm eggs different to other free range alternatives?
It’s important to us at Food Connect that the eggs we source come from happy, healthy and genuine free-range chickens. For this reason, we work with Ian Littleton of ACO certified Clarendon Farm.
Ian firmly believes (and founded his farm on the principle) that free-range farming should resemble customer expectations – hens pecking around an expansive pasture. His farm is exemplary, it has one of the lowest stocking rates in Australia, at around 500 birds per hectare.
Ian is not just concerned about his own chickens, but free-range poultry farming in general, which is why he had a hand in consulting MP John Kaye on a set of free-range farming standards laid out in
the newly proposed Truth in Labelling (Free-Range Eggs) bill.
- Read an article on Ian in the Sydney Morning Herald.
- Truth in Labelling (Free-range Eggs) Bill 2011
The Clarendon Farm diary
Week 22, starting May 28th, 2012
A call to ACTION – Stand up for genuinely Free Range range egg farmers like Ian Littleton
Many of you may be aware of this issue – its been all over the news lately. The Australian Egg Corporation (AEC) is attempting to push through new legislation that would allow the stocking of hen barns to be increased from 1,500 to 20,000 hens per hectare whilst still labeling their eggs as ‘free-range’. This would be a massive 1233% increase on the current legally allowed stocking density. The move is claimed by the AEC to be necessary to the future of the Australian egg industry. The reality is that such legislation only is necessary to increase the profits of the biggest and most unethical egg producers by cashing in on a public demand for ethical produce. The proposed new standard would be utterly meaningless in terms of hen welfare. The move is being pushed by the big industry giants and the supermarkets they collude with and will, intentionally or otherwise, result in the marginalisation of truly ethical free-range egg farmers like Ian Littleton at Clarendon Farms. The AEC claim that egg prices will rise past $10 per dozen unless the new legislation is enacted. Well, Ian’s beautiful eggs certainly don’t come close to being that expensive and don’t look set to. The AEC is using scare tactics and making preposterous claims to try and justify what is essentially a bid for market control and an ever increasing profit margin.
Ian has supplied free-range organic eggs to Food Connect for the last couple of years. Clarendon farm, in north-west Sydney, is run just about as ethically and sustainably as an egg farm could be. Its everything you might want it to be – those hens really do run around in grassy paddocks in the sunshine! Ian has joined with other small egg producers to take a stand against the proposed new legislation. Read about him and his efforts in this great article from the SMH.
There is a wider debate here. Ian would tell you that labeling laws on eggs are already woefully inadequate. Many egg producers are currently stocking far in excess of 20,000 birds per hectare and still labeling the eggs as being free-range. Currently, consumers buying supermarket eggs have a hard time knowing whether the produce they are buying is truly ethical. There is a real need for a solid standard on stocking density linked to labeling that is actively and effectively enforced. The AEC proposal is ludicrous and clearly contravenes hen welfare. Now is the time to start a new conversation and call for genuinely ethical standards in egg production.
At Food Connect we make it our mission to support small organic ethical farmers like Ian. That means taking a stand on the issues that really affect small farmers. Right now the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking public feedback on the AEC proposed legislation. There has already been a huge public outcry from individuals, pressure groups such as Humane Choice and the Greens. The decision of the ACCC, based upon all the evidence made available to it, will determine whether this new legislation goes ahead.
What can you do?
1. Just by purchasing Ian’s eggs you are supporting truly free-range egg farming. Keep it up and tell your friends!
2. Visit the Humane Society website and use their info and links to write a letter to the ACCC, expressing your thoughts about the newly proposed law
3. Lobby your local MP – check out the website of Greens MP John Kaye for info and resources to help you engage your local member on this issue. You can also find out about the Greens Truth in Labelling Bill, which can be seen as a positive alternative to the AEC proposal.
If you love Food Connect because you love truly ethical and organic food and want to support local farmers then we urge you to take a stand for genuinely free range eggs. Thanks, the Food Connect team.