Egg farmers in Alberta will need to wait a little longer to learn when a shift from conventional to enriched cages will begin.
Following a resolution at Egg Farmers of Alberta’s annual general meeting in February, the organization has approached Egg Farmers of Canada with plans to develop a national policy which it hopes will harmonize the transition.
“The resolution gave our board of directors the mandate to set a date to begin the shift of the industry away from conventional cages,” said David Webb, marketing and communications manager at Egg Farmers of Alberta. “We want to make sure that whatever policy that winds up being the standard for Alberta is a national standard as well.”
Egg Farmers of Canada recently passed a similar motion at its AGM. It has Dec. 31, 2014 as the date the transition will begin. Egg Farmers of Alberta is working on a provincial policy based on that recommendation, with that date being considered.
While the new policy is still in the works, the shift should come as no surprise to egg farmers, Webb said. “We’ve seen the direction that the industry is going in for several years.” He added that discussion about this issue and similar developments in the U.S. and EU has been occurring for almost two years.
Egg Farmers of Alberta has also been working with egg farmers to ensure any new cage developments will adhere to the new standards.
“Over the past few years, we haven’t had anyone install a new conventional cage, even though we haven’t had a hard policy in place,” said Webb. “By being proactive as industry rather than waiting until someone forces our hand, we not only preserve the ability for our farmers to have a choice but also allow them to take a longer-term approach to rolling out any changes.”
Finding a solution that works for all industry partners — including retailers and consumers — has been a priority for Egg Farmers of Alberta. “We’re trying to find a solution that fits for everybody.” Even so, Webb emphasized that any changes adopted by Egg Farmers of Alberta will be based on hard data, not politics.
“Whatever the end result for the industry, we want to make sure it’s one that is supported by the science of research. We don’t want to make a decision based on assumptions, and we don’t want it to be based on pressure from activists.”
With Alberta’s policy being a “first step” toward the transition provincially, Webb hopes that a comprehensive national policy will result from the strong support Alberta egg farmers have shown for these changes. “The motion came from a producer from the floor at the AGM, and it was an overwhelming majority vote for the motion,” Webb said. “I think that speaks volumes of the support our industry has for this transition.”
An announcement about the date the transition will begin is expected before the end of the calendar year.