Joyce announces new ACCC Inquiry

By Brian Tessmann, QDO President

Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) has welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce announcement of a new broader and stronger Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into the dairy industry. The announcement followed last week’s Dairy Symposium involving involved dairy farmers, Dairyfarmer Organisations (including QDO), major retailers , Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and Dairy Australia.

While a number of issues raised it was clear the main problems facing the industry was the unfairness in the domestic milk market, particularly from the supermarket practice of using generic or store brand milk as a discount marketing agent. Other issues included unfairness of contracts both between the farmer, processor and retailer. There was general consensus for greater transparency, aspects of exclusivity of supply and the timing of commencement dates. Also flagged was the potential to change the definition of a small business for fair contract proposals and the removal of claw back provisions that impose the majority of risk onto farmers.

The Deputy Prime Minister clearly reiterated his comment during the election that change was needed to $1 milk price as it sent all the wrong signals to the community. Barnaby held firm to his commitment to intervene if the retailers and the rest of the industry to account if it could not sort out $1 per litre milk. He also assured dairy farmers that the promised ‘effects test’ was a certainty and about to be put in place.

The new ACCC inquiry would be separate to the current investigating whether or not Murray Goulburn acted unfairly or unconscionably in their dealings.

QDO looks forward to working with the government and other industry groups throughout this new investigation to represent the interest of Queensland’s unique dairy industry. QDO believe this investigation is a hard fought for opportunity to improve fairness and value to for the entire Australian dairy industry.