February 24, 2009 - Metro backs free-range chicken eggs
Source: Surrey North Delta Leader (surreyleader.com)
By: Jeff Nagel
Metro Vancouver will be serving only free-range eggs in the cafeteria of its Burnaby headquarters.
It will ruffle the feathers of some chicken farmers, but Metro Vancouver is now insisting only free-range eggs be served in its Burnaby headquarters cafeteria.
The move follows on the heels of Richmond and Vancouver, which in 2007 voted to eliminate cage-grown eggs from city-run facilities.
The Vancouver Humane Society opposes the use of densely stacked cages that allow tens of thousands of birds to be packed into a single barn – conditions animal advocates say are cruel and deprive chickens of natural behaviours.
Free-range chickens are uncaged and have free access to both a barn and an outdoor area. ("Free-run" chickens run free inside a barn but have no outside access).
The humane society lobbied cities around the region to change their purchasing policies to steer more business to organic free-range growers.
Metro's move to the more expensive eggs means the extra 15 cents per egg will be passed on to customers.
"I think it's just a basic principle," said Richmond Coun. and Metro agriculture committee chairman Harold Steves. "It shows we're serious about doing something about the way farm animals, chickens in particular, are kept."
About 88 per cent of B.C. chickens are raised in cages – the cheapest, most efficient method of production.
Egg farmers say much more land would be required to produce the same number of eggs if all cages were eliminated in favour of free-range farming.
B.C. Egg Marketing Board general manager Al Sakalauskas called the continuing campaign "unfortunate" and said farmers are committed to the well-being of their hens, operating in a sustainable manner and following a shared Code of Practice.
He noted the Union of B.C. Municipalities considered the issue but declined last year to endorse a Pitt Meadows-led resolution against raising hens in cages.