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ADF: Lessons learnt from the Senate Inquiry

Last week Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) was asked to speak at the Senate Inquiry in Shepparton, Victoria.

Before ADF spoke to the Inquiry, a number of dairy farmers from the region offered valuable insight into an industry that has seen its fair share of hard knocks.

Centred around a few general themes, the dairy farmers talked about having greater transparency between processors and suppliers, contract fairness, and a lack of faith with industry body leadership.

Firstly, ADF believe that the dairy industry needs improved contracting arrangements between farmers and processors; greater transparency through earlier and clearer pricing signals for farmers; and less risk for farmers and more balance in risk along the supply chain.

In relation to greater transparency, ADF is in the final stages of completing the draft Code of Practice. ADF has worked in consultation with its state member organisations, farmers and processors, and the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) to develop a Dairy Industry draft Code of Practice for contractual arrangements to help ensure greater transparency and fairness in milk supply and pricing. This will also minimise the chances of what happened in April/May last year being repeated.

ADF believes that it is important that contracts are fair, simple, realistic and easily understood by both parties ensuring there is more balance for farmers along the supply chain. The Code of Practice will help ensure that supply agreements and contracts comply with the Unfair Contracts law that came into effect on 12 November 2016.

This unfair contracts legislation extends existing protections against unfair contracting practices and is a practical step, that when coupled with the dairy industry Code of Practice, will provide dairy farmers with fairer and more transparent contracts.

ADF will continue to work with farmers, processors and our industry bodies to build a system that builds resilience, rather than leaving farmers vulnerable.

It’s also important to note that the ACCC Inquiry into the Dairy Industry has started. If you are a dairy farmer and can attend one of the public forums the ACCC needs to hear from the ‘horse’s mouth’. The key issues to be considered in the Inquiry include competition between milk processors, the effects of private label products and pricing, contractual practices, availability of price, global markets and key factors influencing the profitability of dairy farms.

The next public forums will be held on:

  • Tuesday 14 February 2017, Traralgon, VIC 
  • Monday 27 February 2017, Warrnambool Golf Club, Warrnambool, VIC 
  • Tuesday 28 February 2017, Shepparton Golf Club, Shepparton, VIC 
  • Thursday 16 March 2017, Mercure Sanctuary Golf Resort, Bunbury, WA 
  • Monday 20 March 2017, Hahndorf Football Club, SA 
  • Wednesday 22 March 2017, Burnie Golf Club, Camdale, TAS 

For more information and to register your interest please visit https://consultation.accc.gov.au/compliance-enforcement/accc-dairy-inquiry-farmer-consultation-forums/

A longer version of this media release "Lessons learnt from the Senate Inquiry" first appeared on the ADF website

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