Dairy code talks

Southern Riverina news - - RURAL OUTLOOK -

Blighty farmer and Mur­ray Dairy board mem­ber Lach­lan Mar­shall has urged on the need to see frame­works built to help ‘‘bring some ethics to the process around con­tract­ing and milk sup­ply.’’

He be­lieves the whole sup­ply chain needs to be looked at, but also cau­tioned to not ‘‘reg­u­late our­selves into a cor­ner.’’

Last week, as he was pass­ing through the re­gion, Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud an­nounced con­sul­ta­tion was set to be­gin on a manda­tory code of con­duct for the dairy in­dus­try, aimed at im­prov­ing the fair­ness of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween farm­ers and pro­ces­sors.

Mr Lit­tleproud re­vealed the gov­ern­ment had be­gun for­mal con­sul­ta­tions on a manda­tory code of con­duct, hop­ing to help ‘‘de­liver real re­form for the dairy in­dus­try.’’

But he stressed this alone would not ‘‘fix the dairy in­dus­try.’’

A state­ment from the min­is­ter’s of­fice said the code would ‘‘ad­dress the im­bal­ance in bar­gain­ing power be­tween farm­ers and pro­ces­sors.’’

Mr Mar­shall said he would ‘‘love to see the value of the prod­uct we pro­duce recog­nised’’ but that that would be achieved ‘‘through mar­ket-driven forces.’’

‘‘I hope they do look into the su­per­mar­ket process side of things too, I think the whole sup­ply chain needs to be ad­dressed.’’

‘‘I still think we prob­a­bly need to be care­ful that we don’t reg­u­late our­selves into a cor­ner as well,’’ he said, favour­ing ‘‘some free­doms’’ in ‘‘the choice of sup­ply, the choice of con­tract and an in­di­vid­ual right to ne­go­ti­ate my own con­tract.’’

‘‘(These) are some things that are im­por­tant to me as part of any frame­work they de­velop.’’

Mr Lit­tleproud said is­sues with the dairy in­dus­try were now be­ing ad­dressed.

‘‘Yes­ter­day I an­nounced with the dairy in­dus­try the start of the con­sul­ta­tion (for) the manda­tory code of con­duct,’’ he said on Thurs­day.

‘‘That’s an im­por­tant step and we’ll have a gran­u­lar look and lens on what that manda­tory code looks like by Christ­mas.’’

‘‘And then the reg­u­lar im­pact state­ment will be fi­nalised to make sure there’s no un­in­tended con­se­quences at the farm gate.’’

‘‘But we’re com­mit­ted to mov­ing for that, the in­dus­try them­selves... Aus­tralian dairy farm­ers, say they want it, so it’s my job to fa­cil­i­tate it and make sure we can leg­is­late it,’’ he said.

Mr Lit­tleproud said he was ‘‘putting the foot to the ac­cel­er­a­tor and get­ting it done’’, stress­ing it had to be un­der­taken in a ‘‘me­thod­i­cal way that doesn’t have an un­in­tended con­se­quence.’’

‘‘And that’s why we’re work­ing quickly to con­sult and make sure by Christ­mas ev­ery­one knows what that looks like...’’

Mr Lit­tleproud stressed super­mar­kets had ‘‘some re­spon­si­bil­ity in this.’’

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud speaks with Blighty farmer Lach­lan Mar­shall.

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