The ACCC has updated its Horticulture Code guidance to help growers and traders understand their rights and fulfill their responsibilities under the code.
The code seeks to protect horticulture growers by requiring all trading with agents and merchants (traders) to happen under a written agreement. The agreement must include certain things, such as how prices are calculated and when the grower gets paid.
The update provides further detail on the code’s key elements, including the requirements for traders to publish their terms of trade, and for merchants to report the gross sales price when paying a grower an amount calculated by a method or formula.
“Our guidance update is aimed at providing greater price transparency for growers about what traders pay for their produce,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.
“The ACCC’s recent compliance checks found that some horticulture traders are not making their terms of trade publicly available and are incorrectly reporting prices in grower statements, and that puts growers at a disadvantage.”
“We are committed to helping growers and traders fully understand their rights and responsibilities under the code,” Mr Keogh said.
Following the release of this update, the ACCC will continue its education and engagement work and will increase its focus on enforcement.
“The ACCC will soon be conducting further compliance checks, and where we identify non-compliance we will seriously consider enforcement action,” Mr Keogh said.
The Horticulture Code is a mandatory industry code prescribed under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA). The purpose of the code is to ensure transparency and clarity of transactions between growers and traders, and to provide a fair and equitable dispute resolution procedure. The code sets out certain rights and responsibilities for growers and traders of horticulture produce.
Ensuring compliance with mandatory industry codes of conduct in the agriculture sector is an essential enforcement and compliance activity for the ACCC. The ACCC conducts regular audits to ensure compliance with the Horticulture Code and investigates alleged breaches. The ACCC’s enforcement tools include administrative resolutions, court enforceable undertakings under section 87B of the CCA, infringement notices, and initiating court action for certain breaches.
The ACCC’s guidance was last revised in 2017 with the introduction of the current version of the code.
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