Canada’s egg producers have published a five-step explanation of why it is going to take 20 years for farmers to move way from conventional hen housing systems in favour of other methods of production for supplying eggs.
While applauded for their commitment to change, made public in February this year, Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) has revealed that one of the most common questions posed by consumers since than concerns why the planned transition will take so long.
Now, in an attempt to justify its short reply that such a transformation is “complicated”, EFC has given its questioners five detailed reasons why 2036 was selected as the housing change completion date.
“Not all chickens are raised alike,” said EFC. “How a pullet is raised determines what kind of housing they can thrive in as they grow. Like egg farmers themselves, the upstream supply chain must adjust to align with the national shift. Transitioning to these systems requires new equipment and new rearing practices, which takes time.
“In many cases, new housing systems means new barns. This is extraordinarily expensive and requires careful planning. For an average sized farm in Canada the cost to rebuild can be close to $1 million dollars (£600,000). Obviously a barn can’t just be ripped up and replaced over the course of a few months. A fiscally sustainable transition takes time and preparation.
“New housing means new equipment. A lot of this new equipment needs to be imported from Europe and not only is that expensive, it also takes time. A lengthy transition is needed to make sure every farmer has the equipment they need for their new mode of production.
Certainty for farmers
“In the EU, conventional hen housing systems were prohibited as of 2012, a process initiated 12 years earlier. However, a key problem with their transition was a lack of certainty around which housing systems would be allowed and which wouldn’t. Many farmers delayed building new barns because of this uncertainty. This led to underinvestment in egg production, a lower egg supply and a subsequent rise in prices. We want to avoid those problems by aiming for certainty and orderliness in our approach.
Supply and demand
“We need to ensure that the supply of eggs matches up with what consumers actually want and will pay for. For that reason, our steady, coordinated and cross-supply chain approach must be executed with the utmost respect for ensuring supply, both that there are no supply shortages and that there is no production of eggs for which there is no market.”