Free Range – An Industry Seminar

Date: 23rd May 2019


In association with:



In association with:


Date: 23rd May 2019

Location: Cotswold Farm Park, Guiting Power, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 5FL

Start time: 10am

On Arrival: Tea/Coffee and British Bacon Rolls

Seasonal Buffet Lunch


•  Tea/Coffee and British Bacon Rolls
•  Welcome – Adam Henson Lloyds Bank Ambassador
•  Introduction to the Seminar – James Baxter, BFREPA Chairman
•  Introduction to the Model Contracts – Robert Gooch CEO, BFREPA
•  Model Contracts (Feed Tracker and Minimum Price) – Ed Savory, Legal Director at Birketts LLP
•  Questions and Answers – Ed Savory, Robert Gooch
•  Improving the Value and Sustainability of Laying Hen Manure – Jason Gittins, ADAS
•  Buffet Lunch
•  Tour of Cotswold Farm Park with Adam Henson



Places are limited to 100 members. Confirmation of invite will be sent by post. Invites will be required on the day. Places will be on a first come first served basis.

The Seminar will conclude with a tour of the farm with Adam Henson for those members who wish to participate.

The BFREPA Industry Seminar will be introduced by BFREPA Chairman, James Baxter

James Baxter, Chairman of BFREPA will introduce the BFREPA Industry Seminar

The industry needs contracts that reflect fairness for producers and packers. A fair balanced contract helps promote a sustainable egg industry fit for future generations. BFREPA are proud to be sponsoring a fair and healthy producer/packer relationship.

The BFREPA Industry Seminar

At the conference in October, Mr Gooch urged BFREPA members to send him copies of their contracts so terms could be assessed by specialist contract lawyers, which has since been done and has provided some worrying results.

A team of legal experts from Birketts LLP found numerous areas requiring improvement. They include pricing and payment terms – which vary massively between agreements – and termination which, in some cases, is weighted entirely towards packers.


The British Free-Range Egg Producers Association is seeking to reform supply contracts between farmers and packers after lawyers found terms of agreements are grossly imbalanced in favour of buyers.

With new entrants coming into the industry, and existing businesses expanding, Mr Robert Gooch, BFREPA CEO said it was vital that all producers had rock-solid agreements in place – with a clear commitment to egg price for the duration of the contract, notice periods and procedures in place for the transfer of accreditation scheme rights at the end of the contract.

“Supply contracts are the foundation of most free-range egg businesses but it is alarming to see so many examples with no reference to the price producers will be paid for their product,” said Mr Gooch. “My members need to know where they stand so they can continue to invest in their businesses to make them more efficient and maintain the excellent standards of hen welfare we see on British free-range farms.

“Our vision is that all free-range egg businesses have fair, meaningful contracts which guarantee a supply of high quality free-range eggs to consumers at a sustainable price for producers.”

At the conference in October, Mr Gooch urged BFREPA members to send him copies of their contracts so terms could be assessed by specialist contract lawyers, which has since been done and has provided some worrying results.

A team of legal experts from Birketts LLP found numerous areas requiring improvement. They include pricing and payment terms – which vary massively between agreements – and termination which, in some cases, is weighted entirely towards packers.

Birketts found most agreements include similar key provisions spanning important areas such as quality standards, compliance with regulation and exclusivity of supply. But it has recommended areas for improvement, including:

Exclusivity –obligations placed on producers are quite onerous, with strict terms imposed.

Codes of practice – one set of agreed codes and regulations would be better than the current variation of terms shown from one agreement to another.

Pricing and payment – title to the eggs passing to the buyer on collection is very one-sided and would be improved by being held by the producer until payment has been received. Payment terms vary from two weeks to one month and there is a lack of consistency on price.

Grading– how eggs are graded and priced is solely at the discretion of the buyer. The producer should have the right to agree the grading and prices of the eggs they supply.

Indemnities – producers are asked to provide a number of warranties to the buyer and also to indemnify against certain aspects of the eggs, and for breach of contract. Buyers should be required to do the same.

Duration and termination –the length of the notice period varies considerably. The rights of each party to terminate the agreement should be consistent in any agreement– at the moment it is not.

As a result of the findings, Mr Gooch has opened up a dialogue with 41 packers outlining the organisation’s areas of concern and asking for feedback. Following consultation, BFREPA has promised that the organisation will deliver on its pledge to draw up model contracts which will be available to its members to enable them to secure fairer terms when negotiating with customers.

The consultation will close in February when work will begin on drawing up the model contracts.

“Producers have a right to a fair contract which gives them the confidence to continue to invest in their businesses and produce a great product,” said Mr Gooch. “Our findings are that contracts are very one-sided in favour of the buyer, which is to be expected when it is the packer offering the terms.

“Our end game is to arm free-range producers with a model contract which stands up to legal scrutiny. This can be used as a barometer for fairness when producers are offered contracts in the future.”

The BFREPA model contracts will be unveiled at the industry seminar by Ed Savory of Birketts LLP

Ed Savory of Birketts LLP will make a presentation of the BFREPA model contracts, which will include a Feed Tracker and a Minimum Price contract, with a Q&A session

Ed is a Legal Director at Birketts LLP commercial department and leads our food sector team. The team acts for a range of clients in the sector in relation to matters including business start-ups, mergers and acquisitions and of course terms of trading. Clients include those involved in farming and production, processing, distribution, wholesale and retail and packaging. He is a personable and entertaining chap who will keep your audience interested!


Poultry manure and used litter are valuable sources of the plant nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and Sulphur (S). When spread to land, these nutrients reduce the need for manufactured fertilisers to meet optimum crop demand. The organic matter they supply can improve soil structure and fertility. However, storage and application of manures need to be carefully managed to maximise their fertiliser value and to minimise odour and nutrient losses to the environment e.g. by ammonia emissions to air and losses of nitrate and phosphate to water.

There is an ongoing need to identify and promote the most effective ways of managing and utilising this resource to best effect and to investigate alternatives to land-spreading. This reflects i) additional controls placed on current practices and ii) technological developments leading to new opportunities.

The trend towards larger free range poultry units – and high densities of poultry farms in some locations – is an additional driver for change. As larger amounts of manure are produced in a particular location, it becomes more difficult to find suitable land nearby for spreading. Furthermore, investment in alternative manure utilisation methods becomes easier to justify on larger units due to economies of scale, whether on an individual or a local-group basis.

BFREPA has approached ADAS to suggest a study approach that would set out the key parameters for effective land-spreading and a range of other ideas for alternative uses of manure and used litter.

This study will be divided into the following two parts.

Part 1 Land-spreading of manures

Key aspects will be as follows:

  • Typical N, P, K and S contents in poultry manures, likely variation and practical implications;
  • The financial and other benefits of using poultry manures instead of manufactured fertilisers;
  • Summary of housing, handling, storage and land spreading management factors that maximise
    fertiliser value;
  • Key legislation and what it means in practice in terms of typical application rates and timings.

Part 2 Alternative uses for manures

This will provide:-

  • A review of current and emerging systems available in the UK for wider utilisation of poultry
    manures with reference to options including:-
  •  Anaerobic digestion;
  •  Dehydration and drying systems;
  • Combustion/incineration for the generation of electricity/heat;
  •  Composting and pelleting;
  •  Indicative costs of each system, details of any possible grant assistance and marketing
    considerations as appropriate;
  •  A summary of regulatory aspects and any emerging issues.

Improving the Value and Sustainability of Laying Hen Manure Project will be unveiled by Jason Gittins of ADAS

Jason Gittins of ADAS will make a presentation on Improving the Value and Sustainability of Laying Hen Manure, followed by a Q&A session

ADAS delivers a wide range of consultancy, research and training in relation to the health and welfare of all major livestock species (including cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry), working to improve stock performance, ensure consumer needs are met and enhance industry reputation.