AUSVEG welcomes ACCC’s report on hort issues

AUSVEG has welcomed the release of an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report into competition and fair trading issues facing the horticulture and viticulture industries.

The report follows extensive consultation by the ACCC and identifies several key issues affecting growers in horticulture and viticulture, including the need for reforms to the Horticulture Code of Conduct and problems surrounding imbalances in bargaining power.

“It’s encouraging to see the ACCC continuing to increase its involvement in the horticulture sector, and we look forward to seeing growers benefit from these efforts,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Jordan Brooke-Barnett.

“There are a range of long-running competition issues which continue to affect our sector, including issues arising from power imbalances in trading relationships between growers and their buyers, and we’re eager to continue working with the Commission’s Agriculture Consultative Committee to help create a level playing field for growers,” said Mr Brooke-Barnett.

Reforms to the Horticulture Code of Conduct have been heavily discussed in the industry following the 2015 review of the Code by Mark Napper and Alan Wein, whose report made a collection of recommendations regarding improvements to the Code to increase its effectiveness.

“We’re hoping to see the Horticulture Code of Conduct benefit from reforms that increase its overall effectiveness and improve its ability to provide protections for growers against unfair behaviour from their trading partners,” said Mr Brooke-Barnett.

“The ACCC’s report suggests that many growers continue to be concerned by threats of blacklisting or ‘trading holidays’ as retribution for making complaints about unfair treatment. It’s clear that there’s more work to be done to protect growers and ensure they feel safe in making complaints.”

"AUSVEG will continue to push for meaningful whistleblower protections so that industry members affected by unfair trading behaviour are able to make complaints without fear of retribution from their trading partners.”

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