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AUSVEG throws weight behind Hort Code reform
The review of the Code, which regulates sales of fresh fruit and vegetables between growers and traders, released its final report earlier in 2016, including 13 recommendations for targeted reforms.
“AUSVEG strongly supports the implementation of all reforms to the Horticulture Code of Conduct recommended by the independent review,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Mr Jordan Brooke-Barnett.
The Code has recently been at the heart of high-profile media coverage of several Bundaberg sweet potato growers claiming they were owed a combined total of nearly two million dollars by agents at Melbourne Produce Markets.
“It is vital that there is a strong, effective Code of Conduct regulating trading relationships in the horticulture sector, and the recommended reforms would help to increase the Code’s ability to provide protections for growers against unfair behavior from their trading partners,” said Mr Brooke-Barnett.
“With recent cases showing that some growers are owed significant sums from their trading partners and are unable to retrieve this money, it’s clear that the independent review was correct in its statement that the Code’s current dispute resolution mechanism is irrelevant and inappropriate.”
“We completely agree that the existing dispute resolution process should be replaced with an improved system. On top of this, we absolutely agree with the reviewers’ recommendation that the Code should be amended to provide for civil penalties and infringement notices for breaches of the Code.”
“When there is so much consistent anecdotal evidence from growers suggesting that there are systemic issues within the horticulture trading landscape, it’s clear that the current Code simply isn’t doing the job.”
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