A battery hen farm in Canberra’s north that was raided by animal rights activists in March will convert its operations to cage-free eggs.
Parkwood Farm will switch to cage-free farming after the ACT Government reached an agreement with Pace Farms, which operates the west Belconnen site.
Economic Development Minister Andrew Barr said the government had agreed to purchase a 24-hectare subdivision of Parkwood Farm for $7.5 million, on the condition that the ACT’s only commercial egg production facility converted to barn-egg production.
Mr Barr said the purchased land would be rezoned and sold for industrial use.
‘‘The Government and Pace Farm have been negotiating for over a year about the conversion to alternative egg production methods,’’ he said.
‘‘Today’s agreement is a positive outcome for animal welfare.
‘‘The agreement also ensures the long-term security of Parkwood Farm and the jobs it provides for local workers.’’
Production at the farm shut down in March, after activists forced entry into the site and slashed conveyor belts, destroying grading and packaging machinery and damaging office equipment and forklifts.
The ACT Greens, who have called for an end to battery farming in the ACT, welcomed the agreement.
“This deal demonstrates that the Greens legislation that would have banned cage egg production would not have sent Parkwood across the border, rather they would have converted to barn egg production,” Greens animal welfare spokeswoman Caroline Le Couteur said.
The RSPCA ACT said the agreement sent a strong message that the confinement of commerical hens was no longer acceptable.
“RSPCA ACT has campaigned for this for the last 20 years and it’s great to see our hard work and commitment to animal welfare has finally paid off," CEO Michael Linke said.
“The Government has put animal welfare first - and that’s a welcome shift in thinking."