Dairy farmers, processors and representative organisations are encouraged to take the opportunity to have their say in helping shape Australia's first mandatory dairy code of conduct at a forum in Camperdown on Monday, November 26.
Federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan is encouraging local farmers and stakeholders to take part and help improve contracts between farmers and processors.
“We need farmers and processors in Wannon to have their say and make sure the code will work for them, and our local region,” Mr Tehan said.
“The code will aim to make contracts fairer, more transparent and enforce a dispute resolution process.
“We all know how important the dairy industry is to us here in Wannon and this can be the first step to a better industry,” Mr Tehan said.
Federal agriculture minister David Littleproud said the dairy industry had come to him and requested a mandatory code of conduct.
“So let’s not waste time – let’s get on with it,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Consultations are the first step in the process, and the Department of Agriculture will be in Camperdown talking to local people about what should be in the code on Monday, November 26 at the Camperdown RSL.
“This isn’t the silver bullet, and there’s much more to be done, but it’s a good start,” Mr Littleproud said.
Last month Mr Littleproud said he believed a regulation impact statement was needed before any mandatory code was imposed.
The move for a mandatory code of conduct follows a number of inquiries into the dairy industry, the most recent by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The ACCC inquiry raised concerns about the fairness and transparency in contracts between dairy farmers and processors.
The ACCC proposed the mandatory code of conduct to address “the inherent bargaining power imbalance” between dairy farmers and dairy processors.
Dairy farmers have complained about low farmgate milk prices paid by processors.
Discussions so far have included the possibility of the ACCC regulating a mandatory code.
While the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) earlier this year said it favoured a voluntary code, the peak national dairy industry body, Australian Dairy Farmers, voted in September to support a mandatory code.
The UDV said earlier this year it wanted processors to provide a more level playing field for suppliers rather than have a mandatory code.
The UDV said a mandatory code would limit market flexibility and impose compliance costs on farmers.