Between the Drought Levy, Mandatory Code and calls for a Royal Commission, there is certainly a lot of noise in the dairy industry at the moment.
Details of when and where the consultations regarding the Mandatory Code of Conduct for the dairy industry went out last week with the final meetings to be held at the end of November.
While we wholeheartedly welcome the ACCC’s call for a mandatory code of conduct, having that code simply be between farmers and processors fails to address a key part of the problem.
Through recent discussions with state and federal politicians, processors and dairy farmers its clear to all that we need to extend the mandatory code to cover the relationship between processors and retailers; in particular the relationship with major supermarkets.
The call for a Royal Commission into Supermarkets is because the issues we have been talking about are not confined to the dairy industry, but extend to all perishable products including all meat, fruit and vegetables.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen reports of the tough times faced by the pork industry due to feed prices. At the end of the day the bulk of meat, fruit and vegetable sales in the domestic market are through the supermarkets which this gives the major players like Coles and Woolworths the power in any negotiations regarding pricing.
Currently supermarkets are under the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct which is voluntary not mandatory. It is hard to believe that the dairy industry is alone in taking the supermarkets to task with regards to their role.
The slow wheels of bureaucracy mean that we are unlikely to get the Royal Commission into the supermarkets passed before the new year.
QDO would like to encourage all those industry bodies that represent other agricultural and horticultural industries like National Farmers Federation to contact our Federal politicians and tell their accounts of the bullying practices of the supermarkets.
A concerted whole of agriculture approach will ensure that the Commission happens. In the meantime the mandatory code as proposed in its current format can provide some, but not all the solutions to our industry’s woes.
Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation
QDO President Brian Tessman.