The Australian government has given the green light to standards and rules for certification for the egg producers belonging to Pasture Raised On Open Fields (PROOF) scheme.
It follows 12 months of assessment by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and input from a range of stakeholders.
The focus of PROOF certification is the on farm management of livestock in a farming system that provides unrestricted daytime access to actively managed, pastured range areas in an environment that encourages purposeful use of those areas.
Guidelines for producers wishing to become members suggest that poultry housing should be as mobile as possible to assist with management of the environment. Flock sizes are generally below 2,500 birds. Sheds should be designed for ease of relocation, appropriate interior environment for the hens and adequate nesting and perching facilities.
Lee McCosker, PROOF chief executive officer, has been critical of recent legislative free range information standards but said PROOF’s accreditation would make a large difference.
“The foundation of the PROOF certification trademark sets the standards for pastured farming moving forward, leaving behind the debacle that “free range” has now become and offers clarity to consumers and egg farmers.”
He added that traditional free range farmers were now moving away from the term free range and felt that pastured better defined the production systems they employed. The programme now is supported by a certification trademark, giving consumers certainty about the origin of their food.