Farmers concerned about code process
DAIRY farmers have accused federal bureaucrats of using a processor-developed template as the basis for Australia’s first mandatory dairy code of conduct, which is meant to improve contracting practices.
In Victoria last week many of the 65 farmers attending consultative meetings said bureaucrats presented them with the Australian Dairy Industry Councils draft as a “benchmark” or “template” on which to build a mandatory code for the industry.
Farmer Power advocate Alex Robertson, who attended a meeting, said the department’s assistant secretary Jo Grainger made little mention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recommendations and focused instead on ADIC’s draft code.
“The problem is people think the ADIC is run by processors,” Mr Robertson said.
“Everyone walked out saying the whole thing stank. It’s like it’s been set up to fail.”
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria acting president Paul Mumford said his members remained opposed to a mandatory code.
He said Ms Grainger presented the ADIC code as a working template, but was relieved to hear a mandatory code would not go ahead unless it passed judgment via a regulatory impact statement.
“That’s the point where she told us we may not end up with a mandatory code,” he said. “It gave me the opinion that we may not end up with a mandatory code as we thought.”
There are key differences between the principles the ACCC wants enshrined in a mandatory dairy code and those outlined by ADIC, on dispute resolution, exclusive supply clauses and step downs.
A departmental spokesman said the ADIC’s draft was being considered as part of the consultation process, but was not a benchmark.