With the election over, it's time to get things done

Jul 15, 2016

After ten days of vote counting, this week Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) congratulates the Coalition Government on its re-election.

As an industry, dairy has enjoyed a constructive relationship with the Coalition throughout its previous term, and we look forward to continuing that spirit of this engagement.

With the election behind us, promises made can now be translated into concrete action.

Although the ministry will not be sworn in until next week, ADF has already met with the Department of Agriculture’s advisors to progress the roll out of key support measures announced in the Dairy Support Package. In particular we continue to highlight the urgency in providing immediate access for all affected farmers to Concessional Loans and the Farm Household Allowance support.

Importantly, concerns raised by farmers who have been working to access these measures, including by share farmers, are being taken seriously and will continue to be progressed with the government.

We will continue to work with the Coalition and the opposition to address other key priorities for the dairy industry also, including implementing an effects test to better balance market power throughout the supply chain, invest in rural research and development to build resilience, ensure secure access to sustainable water resources and support a national strategy to address technical barriers to trade.

Over the coming weeks, the ADF policy advisory groups will continue to meet in Melbourne to cement our priorities for the new government. Building industry resilience, as well as addressing the lack of transparency throughout the supply chain are on our agenda.

July has begun the same way June came to an end - with wild weather and floods challenging many dairying regions and low milk prices meaning revised budgets and planning across all farms.

As we work together to weather these storms we must remember that we are a resilient industry with a long, sustainable future ahead. Our profitability and therefore resilience as an industry depends greatly on the support of the Australian public.

We must continue to remind the community that dairy farmers – regardless of the challenges they face are good business people, who care for their cows, work to enhance the wellbeing of their people and that every efficiency we make on farm has ties to minimising our impact of the environment.

David Basham

Acting ADF President

Effects test remains priority

Feb 24, 2016

Competition law has been the focus of a Government overhaul over the past fiver years, with the intention of preventing situations such as the $1 per litre milk campaign – a damaging state of affairs for dairy farmers which highlighted the significant imbalance of market power between retailers and suppliers in the grocery supply chain.

In its discussion paper on the Options to Strengthen the Misuse of Market Power Law, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) once again emphasised the need for an ‘effects test’ to be inserted into Australia’s Competition Law.

Without an effects test the current tactics and actions of the major retailers will continue to result in substantial lessening of competition in the market place. This means a significant impact on the viability of proprietary branded dairy products, less product variety on supermarket shelves, less choice and in the long term, higher prices for consumers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) must be given the ability to examine the effect of such strategies, with particular emphasis on the impact on competition (including small businesses like corner stores and regional supply chains), consumer choice, farmer viability and future prices.

Of the six options proposed to amend the current misuse of market power provisions, ADF believes the most practical option proposes that the existing provision be amended by removing the words ‘take advantage’. The law would be amended with the wording, ‘purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition’ test.

However, ADF does not agree with the inclusion of the ‘purpose’ element due to the practical difficulties of proving purpose. Inclusion of the purpose element and defence as outlined in the Harper Review recommendation 30 may make the effects test unworkable in reality.

An effects test is in line with competition policy around the world – almost all western nations, except for Australia and New Zealand have an effects test.

There is strong support for the proposed changes to the effects test, from competition experts, including the Harper Review Panel, the ACCC, former Chairmen of the ACCC, Rod Sims as well as small businesses, suppliers and farmers across Australia.

ADF will continue to advocate for stronger misuse of market power laws to foster a more competitive business environment. To view ADF’s submission to the discussion paper, click here.


 

 

Coles announcement highlights need for Mandatory Code of Conduct

Dec 16, 2014

On the heels of Coles’ admission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) yesterday, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has reiterated the need for stronger competition laws that will protect suppliers against the unjust activities of major retailers.

ADF President, Noel Campbell said that Coles’ announcement was a damning indictment against the supermarket giant, whose actions and continual denial over the past four years have had significant negative impacts on suppliers and dairy farmers affected by $1 per litre milk.

“Coles has misled Australian consumers and Parliament for too long on this issue,” Mr Campbell said.

“They have finally confirmed what ADF, and others, have long said about their unsustainable $1 per litre milk campaign. This admission does nothing to rectify the damage they have inflicted upon processors and dairy farmers, who have ultimately paid for their unsustainable price cuts.”

Mr Campbell said the announcement highlighted the need for a Mandatory Code of Conduct with significant penalties and a Supermarket Ombudsman to enforce the Code.

“Coles must pay suppliers, and ultimately farmers, a fair price for their hard work. They should not be able to force the costs of unsustainable price cuts onto farmers,” he said.

ADF looks forward to the findings of the Harper Review of Competition Law and Policy, with the hope that this will foster a fairer supply sector going forward and end unjust practices such as the $1 per litre campaign.

ADF thanked the ACCC for its persistence in pursuing Coles in this matter, and said it will be watching the court proceedings closely.

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