EGG farmers have appointed their first female chief executive officer to spearhead the future of Australian egg production.
Melinda Hashimoto, who has strong links in the nation's agricultural sector, has taken up the helm of industry lobby group Egg Farmers of Australia.
As a former adviser to agriculture ministers in Queensland and Canberra, the new egg boss has hit the ground running in a challenging time for egg producers.
"It's an honour to work with farmers that produce such an important low cost protein eaten by most Australians," Mrs Hashimoto said.
"The egg industry provides many jobs and makes an important economic contribution to our nation".
The nation's laying flock of 20 million hens produces 17 million eggs daily.
Mrs Hashimoto says this equates to a $1.8 billion injection into Australia's economy.
But the new CEO said egg farmers faced many challenges.
"There are three urgent matters facing our industry: This includes the drought which has fuelled higher grain prices and in turn has skyrocketed the cost of feeding hens," Mrs Hashimoto said.
"The second issue is the need for Federal and State Government Agriculture Ministers to sign off on new Animal Welfare Standards for our egg industry.
"Farmers have been waiting six years for this and ministerial endorsement is needed to provide clarity on how farmers move forward in the care of their hens."
Mrs Hashimoto said the third challenge facing egg farmers was biosecurity.
"The vast movement of eggs from one state to another can pose biosecurity risks," she said.
"For example, an outbreak of salmonella enteritidis last year has allowed the industry to re-examine and strengthen it's on farm practices to reduce the spread of unwanted disease."
Mrs Hashimoto, who grew up on farm near Biloela in Queensland, has a had a long career in agricultural politics. She was an adviser to both former Queensland Agriculture Minister John McVeigh and the previous Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.