The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft determination proposing to grant authorisation to vegetable grower members of the Tasmanian Farmer and Graziers Association (TFGA) to collectively bargain with vegetable processors Simplot and McCain, as well as any future vegetable processor in Tasmania.
Collective bargaining by the TFGA with Simplot and McCain has been authorised since 2004. The ACCC is proposing to grant authorisation for a further ten years. As in previous authorisations, participation in the collective bargaining is to be voluntary for both growers and processors. While Tasmania accounts for 30% of Australian production of processed vegetables, the majority of farms in Tasmania are small, with almost half of farms producing less than $50,000 of produce per year.
“Collective bargaining is likely to deliver transaction cost savings for growers and processors and improve growers’ input into contractual arrangements,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
The ACCC notes that collective bargaining is available for small businesses, including in the primary sector, through the authorisation process. The ACCC has previously authorised a large number of collective bargaining arrangements by primary producers.
The ACCC is seeking submissions from interested parties in relation to its draft determination, before making a final decision.
Authorisation provides immunity 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 authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.
Further information about the application and granting of interim authorisation is available at www.accc.gov.au/AuthorisationsRegister
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