Code talks start soon

Shepparton News - Country News - - DAIRY -

For­mal con­sul­ta­tions on a manda­tory dairy code of con­duct are set to get un­der way soon, with hopes a frame­work can be agreed to be­fore Christ­mas.

Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud, who was in Shep­par­ton last Wed­nes­day, said he hoped the code could be in place in time for the start of the next milk­ing sea­son.

Dates and lo­ca­tions of con­sul­ta­tions will be re­leased shortly, but Mr Lit­tleproud said he was ‘‘putting the foot on the ac­cel­er­a­tor’’ to get the code planned by Christ­mas, fol­low­ing drawn-out dis­cus­sions with pro­ces­sors and in­dus­try about the code.

‘‘We want to make sure we get this right,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve or­dered a reg­u­la­tory im­pact state­ment and what that makes sure is that there’s no un­in­tended con­se­quences in im­ple­ment­ing this plan, par­tic­u­larly to the farm gate.

‘‘(The Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Water Re­sources) have let us down on a cou­ple of things re­cently in terms of con­sul­ta­tion and I’ve made sure that the plan in terms of con­sul­ta­tion is a proper one.

‘‘Sit­ting and lis­ten­ing to farm­ers . . . sit­ting with pro­ces­sors to make sure we get that right.’’

A manda­tory code of con­duct was one of the key rec­om­men­da­tions in an Aus­tralia Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion re­port into the dairy in­dus­try handed down in April, which flagged mar­ket im­bal­ances and a lack of trans­parency.

It took more than four months for in­dus­try to agree to sup­port­ing a manda­tory code of con­duct, with the Aus­tralian Dairy Prod­ucts Fed­er­a­tion and the UDV among those voic­ing con­cerns.

‘‘There’s a large in­ter­est in get­ting a manda­tory code right, par­tic­u­larly down here in Vic­to­ria,’’ Mr Lit­tleproud said.

‘‘We have got to make sure we un­der­stand it’s a na­tional mar­ket in many re­spects, but there’s idio­syn­cra­sies right across it and we need to try and work with states like Vic­to­ria to make sure there’s no un­in­tended con­se­quences for them.’’

Al­though la­belling it a step in the right di­rec­tion, Mr Lit­tleproud ac­knowl­edged there was more work to be done in dairy.

‘‘I have a per­sonal view that in the prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion of the dairy in­dus­try there is an im­bal­ance be­tween the su­per­mar­ket and the farm gate as well,’’ he said.

‘‘How we work through that is a far broader and harder ques­tion to an­swer.’’

Full speed ahead . . . Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud hopes a manda­tory dairy code of con­duct will be in place in time for the start of the next milk­ing sea­son.

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