Commenting on this week's meeting of consumer affairs ministers that will decide on a definition of free range egg production, Greens animal welfare spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon has called for the decision to be consistent with consumer expectations of animal welfare.
"Today's report that systems with more than six times the number of hens per hectare than what is judged to be a fair assessment of free range could also use that label should not be agreed to.
"The fact that consideration is being given to widening the definition of free range to cover what is effectively factory farming reveals the level of influence the big producers and their key political advocate Minister Barnaby Joyce are having on the process.
"Minister Joyce should not put the profits of big egg producers before animal welfare standards and the rights of consumers to know the conditions under which their eggs are produced.
"A growing number of Australians are now opting to buy free range eggs to avoid the horrific cruelty of factory farming.
"The industrial egg producers are out to manipulate the definition of free range so they can cash in on the higher prices free range labels attract.
"It is critical that the nation's consumer affairs ministers legislate a stocking density limit of 1,500 birds per hectare and guarantee that the hens have meaningful access to a range," Senator Rhiannon said.