Australia’s peak farm body says farmers are fed up with being kept in the dark about what’s driving prices across the country’s agricultural supply chains.
As pressure mounts on supermarkets to come clean on their pricing strategies after a Senate inquiry was announced on the weekend, the National Farmers’ Federation has released an issues paper on market price transparency. This outlines steps the Government can take to improve fairness and price transparency for farmers which will flow on to better outcomes for consumers at the checkout.
NFF President David Jochinke said the pressures on farmers were reaching boiling point, with an AUSVEG survey earlier this year showing 34% of vegetable growers were considering leaving the industry and a livestock market crash not reflected in supermarket prices.
“For decades we’ve seen our supply chains gradually tighten to the point where we’re now one of the most tightly consolidated supply chains on the planet.
“Many farmers have only one customer to buy their products, and only a handful of places to buy their inputs. That puts not just farmers, but consumers, at a huge disadvantage.
“There’s no transparency. We can see what people pay at the checkout, and we know what we’re getting at the farm gate – but who clips the ticket in the middle is hidden from view,” Mr Jochinke said.
A survey by the National Farmers’ Federation of more than 1,600 farmers in September found that the market power of supermarkets and processors was the top issue concerning those in the sector.
“We’ve seen this slow creep of consolidation take hold of our supply chains and we’re now in this really precarious position. We need to make sure the rules are there to level the playing field because it’s currently tilted heavily against the farmer.”
Ideas put forward in the Issues Paper released by the NFF today include:
- mandatory price reporting and disclosure;
- increased powers for the ACCC to access supply chain data;
- further reforms to unfair contract terms;
- improving whistleblower protections and access to justice; and,
- greater uptake of collective bargaining.
The NFF said the current competition review initiated by the Albanese Government was an important opportunity to square up to these challenges.
“We know this is an issue that farmers and everyday Australians care about. People don’t want to be ripped off at the checkout, and they don’t want the farmer to be ripped off either.
“We’re putting forward simple solutions to make things fairer for both farmers and consumers,” Mr Jochinke concluded.
Competition will be the focus of a roundtable event tomorrow hosted by the NFF and attended by farming representatives from across Australia. The Roundtable will give farmers the chance to share their views with Assistant Minister for Competition, Andrew Leigh, and Head of the Competition Policy Review, Jason McDonald.
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