October 22, 2008

    

Australian pig industry disputes free-range standard
     

 

The Australian pig industry is in an uproar over definitions of a free-range standard for pigs.

 

Australia's chief industry body - Australian Pork Ltd (APL), was delaying making a decision over a standard for free-range pigs, the Free-Range Pork Farmers Association President, Ms Lee McCosker charged.

 

She said that in allowing more eco-shed producers to call themselves free-range, the APL was blurring its definition.

 

She added that a standard would "bring more attention to the current intensive system", and APL members are mostly intensive pig producers.

 

Although eco-shed management was far more humane than intensive production, it was unfortunate that producers raising pigs in this way could call themselves free-range, she said.

 

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. However, the pigs have no outside access.

 

Chief Executive of APL, Andrew Spencer, conceded 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.