The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a final decision allowing current and future chicken meat grower members of the Victorian Farmers Federation to collectively bargain with the chicken processors they supply. Authorisation is granted for ten years.

“Collective bargaining for these farmers will likely reduce costs for them and the processors they supply, and also provide them an opportunity to have greater input into their contracts,” ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh said.

“These efficiencies can ultimately benefit consumers as well through cheaper prices.”

The VFF currently has 258 chicken meat grower members who are split into four grower groups based on the processor they supply. The authorisation allows each group of growers to collectively negotiate with their respective processor. The four processors are – Baiada Poultry Pty Ltd, Hazeldene Chicken Farm Pty Ltd, Ingham Enterprises Pty Ltd, and Turi Foods Farming Division Pty Ltd.

Victorian chicken growers have been collectively bargaining with individual processors since the ACCC first authorised them to do so in 2005.

The ACCC has also previously authorised similar collective bargaining arrangements for chicken growers in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.

“In the coming weeks, the ACCC will be publishing a new guide ‘Collective bargaining and collective boycotts - the benefits of working with other small businesses’. This guide is designed to increase awareness and understanding about collective bargaining and collective boycotts, highlight some issues to take into account if small businesses are considering negotiating together, and explain how to initiate the process of seeking authorisation to collectively bargain,” Mr Keogh said.

Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.