Factory farming gets new foes
12 September 2005
By Anna Wallis

HEN SUPPORTERS: Members of Caff try the traditional form of campaign in Levin in Saturday.
Caff say they are also trying to work with supermarket and cafe owners on the issue.
Photo by Jonathan Cameron

Animal welfare activists are getting alongside supermarket and cafe owners in an attempt to win the battle over battery hens and the use of sow crates, says Campaign Against Factory Farming (Caff) spokeswoman Debra Ashton.

Admitting that animal welfare issues have little traction during an election campaign, Ms Ashton said groups like Caff are trying to work with supermarket and cafe owners on the issue, rather than just stage protests.

She said supermarket owners are starting to offer a wider variety of free-range eggs, and many are happy to let the group campaign outside their stores.

"Some cafe owners now have signs up saying they use free-range eggs or non-factory-farmed pork.

"It all helps.

"Supermarket owners are also willing to listen.

"We are able to go in and talk to them about the campaign. They say `go for you life; you can have an hour or two outside'. There's no animosity."

Supermarkets are now selling free-range eggs for only 50c more than other varieties, which helps negate the argument over cost, she said.

Despite a 2002 Colmar-Brunton poll showing 79 percent of New Zealanders support the banning of battery hen farming and would support the alternative at the supermarket, cost has always been an issue in the sale of eggs, she said.

Caff claims that 92 percent of the eggs eaten in New Zealand come from the country's three million battery or caged hens.

The group held a traditional protest outside McDonald's in Levin on Saturday to raise local awareness of factory farming.

Ms Ashton said the wider animal welfare world had tried to talk to McDonald's and other fast food chains about issues such as battery hens and factory farming.

"We are not making much headway. But these things are worth trying.

"While we were in Levin, we talked to a local cafe owner who thought he might go the free range way. It's all about education."