A good egg?

May 29, 2007

I was talking to a vegan acquaintance the other day who’d just come back from protesting the RSPCA’s Million Paws Walk in Melbourne.  Her beef (pardon the pun) with the RSPCA is their apparent hypocrisy in supporting one of Australia’s largest producers of cage-eggs, Pace Farm. 

The RSPCA endorses Pace Farm’s barn laid eggs range (and receives a healthy paycheck of over $100,000 in ‘egg royalties’ from Pace every year in return for their use of the RSPCA’s Cruelty Free logo).  But Pace Farm does more than just rear hens in barns.  Their facilities house over 2 million egg-producing hens, the majority of which are reared in the very type of battery cage systems that the RSPCA is publicly opposed to. (See details of their campaign here)    

It reminded me of a recent blog post I’d read, questioning the worth of trying to promote more humane methods of animal husbandry in industrial farming – to have fewer hens per cage, for example, or a little more space for intensively reared pigs – when really the whole concept of industrially reared animals is fundamentally flawed, based as it is on inhumane, unhealthy and environmentally damaging practices.

It’s an interesting dilemma.  Is the RSPCA’s support of Pace Farm justifiable, because it promotes incremental change in the industry, or have they simply become accomplices in a blatant case of animal ethics greenwash??


  1. Interesting that the RSPCA in Australia should be into factory farming just like the RSPCA in the UK.

    Wonder what other similarities there are?

    Take a look at RSPCA Animadversion ttp://cheetah.webtribe.net/~animadversion/ and if you scroll down you will see a link to how Freedom Foods animals live and die in the UK.

    Here people have got together to defend themselves against the RSPCA http://the-shg.org

    And there is a petition running on the prime minister’s website for a public inquiry into the policies and running of the RSPCA in the UK http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/rspcainquiry/

  2. While you raise some interesting questions about our endorsement of Pace Farm’s barn laid eggs, there are a few major issues that your analysis fails to highlight.

    Firstly, the RSPCA has a program of product endorsement, not company endorsement. In fact, our endorsement of Pace Farm’s more ethical barn-laid products can be seen as an indictment of their own (and others’) cage-laid egg products. By endorsing a product which offers good alignment with the RSPCA’s core values, our aim is to increase demand and consumption of barn-laid and free-range eggs, and decrease the practice of eggs produced under more cruel conditions.

    Secondly, the product endorsement revenues paid by such companies as Pace assist us in achieving our mission. Without this important financial contribution, the RSPCA would be unable to carry on the many beneficial projects that we do to actively promote the care and protection of animals.

    As I mentioned, you have raised some good questions, but I’d like to leave you with just one: How can the RSPCA best prevent cruelty to animals – through endorsing ethical products; or by taking the higher moral ground, and refusing lucrative endorsement fees from companies which engage in both ethical and conventional production practices?

  3. Thanks for your response, Jane.

    I certainly didn’t intend this post to be an RSPCA-bashing exercise. I respect the organisation’s important role in maintaining and campaigning for animal rights in Australia.

    I am not familiar with the way that the RSPCA operates in the UK, Fenris, but I believe that the extent of the organisation’s powers of prosecution in Australia seem appropriate.

    What is being questioned, rather, is the organisation’s relationships with animal industry groups. Rather than write a lengthy comment here, I have posted my reply in a new blog entry – click here.

  4. thanks for the interesting information

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