ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh discusses the challenges consolidation presents for Australian agriculture, and the tools to preserve and promote competition in the sector.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is putting growers and traders in the horticulture industry on notice that they need to take steps to comply with the 2017 Horticulture Code of Conduct, or face penalties and fines.
Addressing the 2017 NSW Farmers Horticulture Forum today, ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh called on growers and traders to familiarise themselves with the Code and to ensure their businesses are compliant.
The ACCC has granted authorisation to Queensland Sugar Ltd, Bundaberg Sugar Ltd, Mackay Sugar Ltd and Isis Central Sugar Mill Co. Ltd to collectively negotiate with Sugar Terminals Ltd for the provision of storage and handling services at the six bulk sugar terminals in Queensland.
The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Australia's largest milk processor, Murray Goulburn Cooperative Co. Limited (Murray Goulburn), alleging it engaged in unconscionable conduct and made false or misleading representations in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC also alleges that former managing director Gary Helou and former chief financial officer Bradley Hingle were knowingly concerned in Murray Goulburn’s conduct.
The revised nation-wide Horticulture Code, which sets out mandatory requirements for traders and agents operating in Australian fresh fruit and vegetable markets, will include the potential for penalties of up to $54,000 when it comes into effect tomorrow [1 April 2017].
“Farmers producing fruit and vegetables will be given increased protection under the Horticulture Code as it improves competition and commercial practices in fresh fruit and vegetable markets in Australia,” ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh said.
The Terms of Reference for the inquiry were set by the Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP.
The ACCC must submit its report following the inquiry to the Treasurer before 1 November 2017.
The ACCC released an issues paper in November 2016 seeking feedback on key competition and fair trading issues in the industry. Submissions to the issues paper closed on 12 December 2016.