Egg farmers urge more action on bird flu after Coles introduces purchase limit

Egg farmers urge more action on bird flu after Coles introduces purchase limit

Egg farmers are calling on Agriculture Victoria to take further action to halt the spread of bird flu across the poultry industry, as fears of a nationwide egg shortage mount.

It comes after Coles introduced a purchase limit on eggs yesterday in every state except Western Australia, citing shortages linked to bird flu disrupting their supply.

The supermarket giant said it hoped the two-carton limit per customer per transaction ”will help maintain availability and support as many customers as possible”.

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Coles is so far the only national supermarket to introduce a buying limit, with Woolworths confirming it has no immediate plans to do so.

Victorian free-range egg producer Wes Humpage acknowledged that egg supply was already “pretty tight” in Australia prior to the bird flu outbreak, which had “sent shockwaves” through the industry.

He urged Agriculture Victoria to become more proactive in stemming the spread of the avian influenza, which has forced farmers to euthanise close to one million chickens across five farms.

”There’s a lot of farms in the restricted area that are testing negative, like our farms,” Humpage, who owns WesEggs, told Today.

“It’s all about trying to work with these farms to try and strengthen their biosecurity measures so that those farms stay clear of the infection.”

”I’m hoping Agriculture Victoria shifts to a more proactive approach so that we can assist farmers, work with them, work with the industry to further protect the unaffected farms.

“That will bolster egg supply and help consumers get access to eggs.”

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The highly pathogenic H7N3 strain of bird flu has been detected on four farms in western Victoria, while another strain, H7N9, has been detected at a fifth farm.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has this morning sought to reassure consumers that there is “no reason” to expect a national egg shortage.

Australia has roughly 21 million egg-laying hens and only four per cent of those – equating to one million hens – have been affected by the current outbreak, Watt told ABC News this morning.

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