Farm businesses warned as scams targeting agricultural sector grow

Farmers and small businesses in rural and regional areas are urged to be cautious, particularly when buying heavy machinery, following a spike in scams targeting the agricultural sector this year.

Reports to the ACCC’s Scamwatch show Australian farm businesses lost more than $1.2 million to scammers between 1 January and 31 August 2022, an increase of more than 20 per cent compared to the same period last year.

ACCC updates guidance material for Horticulture Code

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.

ACCC flags increased focus on Horticulture Code enforcement

Some fruit and vegetable wholesalers are not meeting their legal obligations under the Horticulture Code of Conduct, recent audits by the ACCC have found.

The ACCC conducted audits after hearing through its Perishable Agricultural Goods Inquiry that some fruit and vegetable wholesalers were trading without Horticulture Produce Agreements, which is a breach of the code. Horticulture Produce Agreements are written contracts that growers and wholesalers must have in place before trading with each other.

Grape Co pays penalties for alleged misleading representations on grape origins and Horticulture Code breaches

Victorian table grape traders Grape Co Australia Pty Ltd and Grape Co Farms Pty Ltd (together Grape Co) have paid penalties totalling $34,920 after the ACCC issued three infringement notices alleging Grape Co made false or misleading representations about grape origins and failed to comply with the Horticulture Code of Conduct.

Court penalises potato wholesaler for breaching the Horticulture Code and declares unfair contract terms void

In proceedings brought by the ACCC, the Federal Court has declared that certain terms of contracts between Australia’s largest potato wholesaler, Mitolo Group Pty Ltd, and potato growers entered into between December 2016 and February 2018 were unfair contract terms and therefore void.

Red Rich Fruits amends contracts with growers after ACCC concerns

A trader in apples, pears and other fresh fruits has agreed to change its horticulture produce agreements with growers after the ACCC raised concerns the agreements contained unfair contract terms, and terms which did not comply with the Horticulture Code of Conduct.

M.V Napoleone & Co Pty Ltd, trading as Red Rich Fruits, has agreed to amend a term in its standard form horticulture produce agreement considered by the ACCC to likely be an unfair contract term under the Australian Consumer Law.