THE Dairy Industry Code of Conduct has brought about a "significant culture change" within the dairy sector and helped increase competition at the farmgate, according to Australian Competition & Consumer Commission deputy chair Mick Keogh.
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The code, which was introduced in January 2020 as a key recommendation from the ACCC’s 2018 dairy enquiry, is under review, after the public submission period closed on August 29.

Speaking at a Rural Media & Communicators SA/NT breakfast, Mr Keogh conceded the code wasn’t perfect, but said the ACCC was still pleased with how it was operating.

He said a lot more dairyfarmers, particularly in the southern regions of Australia, had a better understanding of their milk supply agreements and had written agreements, rather than handshake agreements.

Mr Keogh said the “manifestly unfair” nature of previous milk supply contracts had been highlighted by retrospective price step-downs implemented by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra in 2016, which led the industry to call for change.

“The mandatory code focuses on a requirement to ensure those milk supply agreements are fair and available to farmers at least a month prior to them needing to sign up for the new milk year,” he said.

“Virtually all milk supply agreements now come out on June 1 with a price, giving farmers an opportunity to compare offers and make the best decision.

“It’s not perfect, but I think it has been very successful in bringing a significant culture change through the dairy sector.”

Regional small, organic dairy farm industry had been rocked by Horizon Organic nonrenewal.

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