Seed­net fined $1m over bar­ley claims

The Weekend Australian - - BUSINESS -

The Fed­eral Court has ruled a seed mar­ket­ing busi­ness was sow­ing dis­hon­esty when it claimed a new va­ri­ety of bar­ley was stronger and more tol­er­ant to dis­ease.

Land­mark-owned Seed­net has copped a $1 mil­lion fine for telling farm­ers be­tween De­cem­ber 2014 and De­cem­ber 2016 that Com­pass bar­ley was bet­ter able to stay up­right than older va­ri­eties.

The busi­ness also dis­trib­uted fact sheets for a year that claimed Com­pass had more re­sis­tance to de­bil­i­tat­ing leaf rust than it ac­tu­ally did.

The ACCC, which ini­ti­ated pro­ceed­ings against Seed­net in Au­gust, said the com­pany’s con­duct had de­nied grain pro­duc­ers the chance to make an in­formed de­ci­sion about what they put on their farms.

“Ex­ag­ger­ated mar­ket­ing of new agri­cul­tural pro­duce is a ma­jor con­cern across the in­dus­try,” ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.

“At the time of the re­lease of a new crop va­ri­ety, farm­ers and their agronomists lack other sources of in­de­pen­dent in­for­ma­tion be­yond what busi­nesses tell them.”

The court also or­dered Seed­net to pay $50,000 to­wards the ACCC’s le­gal costs.

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