The Federal Government has today announced an historic inquiry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into the domestic fresh food and dairy supply chain – from the farmgate right through to the supermarket.
Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, said the government had ordered a three-month ACCC independent inquiry into the supply chain for fresh foods such as meat (beef, lamb, pork, chicken), eggs, seafood, fruit and vegetables to ensure producers are treated fairly by the major retailers.
“Importantly, this inquiry will also examine whether the new Dairy Code should also be extended across the entire domestic supply chain to include retailers,” Mr Drum said.
“The Liberal and Nationals Government is committed to fighting for a fair go for our farmers and this inquiry is in response to long-held concerns about bargaining imbalances that currently exist and the misuse – and in some cases the abuse – of this power by some sections of the fresh food supply chain.
“Our farmers take considerable risks and work incredibly hard to grow the fresh and affordable food we all take for granted.
“But there are concerns that once farm produce is harvested or processed and sent off to market, producers have little bargaining power and are at the mercy of the powerful supermarkets and intermediaries when it comes to the price they are paid.
“Unfortunately, not all interactions between farmers and the major supermarkets are conducted fairly and in good faith and there are bargaining imbalances and other serious issues that need to be looked at.
“We saw this in 2019 when Coles had to pay more than $5 million to Norco dairy farmers after it was found it had not passed on the full amount of a milk price rise, despite claiming to do so in a marketing campaign.”
Mr Drum said the inquiry, which commences on August 31, would provide Nicholls farmers across all food producing sectors with an opportunity to submit evidence, raise concerns and share their own experiences in the domestic marketplace.
“I strongly encourage local farmers and agribusinesses to take this opportunity, while it’s available, and contribute to this important inquiry,” Mr Drum said.
“We want to ensure we have the right policies in place – but to do that, we need industry to speak up and tell us what’s really going on.
“Importantly, the ACCC has guaranteed that the inquiry will accept confidential submissions so that farmers can provide evidence of harmful practices without the fear of punishment and retribution by the major supermarkets.
“This inquiry is not designed to regulate food prices. Instead, it will identify problems and recommend policy options – including a possible all-encompassing agricultural code – if appropriate.
“The Federal Government is committed to fighting for regional and rural Australia, and we will always advocate for fairer treatment of our farmers.”
The ACCC will report to the Federal Government by November 30. Visit the ACCC website for more information.