Last week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommended economy-wide regulatory change after investigating fresh produce supply chains. During a three-month inquiry, it was discovered that harmful power imbalances were rife between farmers, wholesalers and retailers.
ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said following the inquiry, the ACCC would be investigating unfair contract terms in the chicken meat industry and reports of horticulture wholesalers breaching the Horticulture Code.
The ACCC’s Perishable Agriculture Goods Inquiry Report recommends the introduction of an unfair trading practices prohibition, the strengthening of the small business unfair contract term protection and giving the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct teeth.
National Farmers’ Federation chief executive Tony Mahar called on the Federal Government to urgently implement all recommendations from the ACCC’s inquiry: “I have heard countless examples from our horticulture growers of buyers using short notice cancellations to exploit growers and drive down prices. Once the farmer has picked and packed the produce, they get a phone call from the supplier stating they are cancelling the order, in the same breath they make a ‘new’ order for the same produce at 30 to 40 per cent discount. This is outrageous.”
According to an article on sheppnews.com.au, NSW Farmers vice-president Xavier Martin said the report and the Federal Government’s response could lead to positive change for dairy, poultry and horticulture farmers.