Tasmania Egg Producers Campaign to Dump Labelling Laws

AUSTRALIA - Tasmanian food industry players are joining forces with backyard egg producers to campaign against new labelling laws.
calendar icon 26 August 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

According to ABC, a law requiring any egg producer with more than 20 chickens to stamp individual eggs has been rolled out nationally to provide traceability for food safety reasons.

In Tasmania, it was deferred for 12 months by the previous government.

Business owners hope the State Government will make changes that protect small free-range egg producers before the legislation is enacted.

Opponents of the laws have launched a petition against the proposed legislation, which they fear could see some producers out of business.

Market gardener Paulette Whitney said the cost associated with the changes would be about $4.50 per carton, making many producers unviable.

"It would cost us $4.50 per carton in just administration fees," she said.

"As soon as we go over 20 birds the registration fees will make it unaffordable for us to go to market."

Restaurateurs have also joined the campaign, including Chloe Proud, who owns and operates a Hobart restaurant with a focus on locally produced food and wine.

She said it made no sense to put pressure on small operators at the same time as trying to build up Tasmania's reputation as a fine food, paddock to plate destination.

"You really need these small scale producers in order to facilitate that. You can't achieve that with really large scale commodities," she said.

Both the New South Wales and Victorian governments amended the national legislation in order to protect the interests of small producers.

Greens MP Cassie O'Connor wants the Tasmanian Government to do the same.

"I think it's very reasonable that the smaller producers here - with a Government that says it wants to cut red tape - get a hearing," she said.

"And with a new government that says it wants to slash red tape, it does seem ironic that the Minister for Primary Industries won't meet with egg producers to talk about their concerns."

Ms Whitney wrote to the Minister for Primary Industries, Jeremy Rockliff, in May and received a response three days ago, agreeing to meet.

In a statement the Government said it was consulting stakeholders before developing final regulations.

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