Recently the horticulture sector has been let down by a small minority of growers who knowingly or unknowingly infringed workers’ rights.
This week, decisive action was taken to rid the industry of worker exploitation with the launch of the Fair Farms program.
Functioning as an independent, third-party compliance auditor, Fair Farms was developed by Growcom as a workplace training and certification program for employers in Australian horticulture.
Program manager, Thomas Hertel said the program had been developed by industry, for industry.
“Fair Farms will support all members of the Australian horticultural supply chain with tools, information and training to implement employment practices that comply with existing labour laws and ethical standards,” Mr Hertel said.
“We want to work with the retailers and others fresh produce buyers on this, who can reward good practices through their buying decisions and create consumer awareness.”
National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson praised Growcom for taking the initiative on what is a complex and important issue.
“Workplace exploitation and non-compliance are entrenched problems that require a comprehensive response across the whole supply-chain.
“Growcom clearly understands this, and Fair Farms represents a giant leap in the right direction on this issue.” Ms Simson said.
“By adopting an inclusive approach that takes full advantage of industry knowledge, we are confident that Fair Farms will have an edge in rooting out exploitative practices.”
Fair Farms has already received support from leading supermarket chains, who will accept products from suppliers who choose Fair Farms as their ethical audit program.
A highlight of the Fair Farms launch was the announcement of the first Fair Farms certified growers, Mary-Jane and Cam Turner from Riverdale Herbs in Queensland.
“As an employer it was important for us to be able to distinguish our business from those that don’t employ ethically,” Ms Turner said.
“We chose Fair Farms as our ethical audit program because it was developed by Growcom.
“They have been supportive of us as a grower and the wider horticulture industry for many years and we had faith that the Fair Farms Standard would be a true reflection on a grower’s needs and requirements.
“Going through the assessment and audit process was a valuable exercise. It has allowed us to review our business documents, modernise our systems, and consolidate our records.”
For more information on the program visit the Fair Farms website: www.fairfarms.com.au