AUSTRALIA’S joint dairy farmer and processor lobby group, the Australian Dairy industry Council, has launched a review into its 12-month-old voluntary code of conduct, despite calls for it to be replaced with a legally-binding mandatory code.
The voluntary code outlines how processors should behave when dealing with farmer suppliers, but has been criticised by state lobby groups as unenforceable and ineffective.
So far ADF and the Australian Dairy Products Federation, which form the ADIC, have refused to back a mandatory code.
ADIC chairman Terry Richardson, who is also Australian Dairy Farmers president, announced the voluntary code review last week, despite NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, South and West Australian dairy farmer groups backing a mandatory code.
State dairy farmer groups and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have called for a mandatory code requiring pricing transparency, contractual certainty and a dispute resolution process, following evidence processors were already breaching the voluntary code.
But Mr Richardson said at this stage it would be wrong to pre-empt the outcome of the review, which will be completed by the end of June.
Rival dairy advocacy group Dairy Connect branded the review a “waste of time and resources”. “The voluntary industry code currently operating has been an abject failure. It has died and should be put to rest,” Dairy Connect acting president Adrian Drury said.
“If it was working, the industry would already have fair, balanced, plain English, milk supply agreements. It doesn’t.
“Many dairy farmers are at a crossroad. The decisions made in the next days, weeks and months will determine Australia’s dairy future. The industry cannot afford to let producers and the dairy industry down.”
By: PETER HUNT
Source: The Weekly Times