Dairy processors face a greater risk of enforcement action for breaches of the Dairy Code, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has warned.
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WARNING: ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh says dairy processors have had enough time to learn what their obligations are under the Dairy Code.

ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said the time for education was over.

“Processors have now had enough time to learn what their obligations are under the Dairy Code,” he said.

The ACCC signalled its tougher approach earlier this year when it initiated Federal Court proceedings against the world’s largest milk processing company Lactalis.

The company allegedly failed to comply with a host of regulations in the dairy code of conduct, including failing to introduce transparent or fair standard contract arrangements with Queensland dairy farmers last year.

The ACCC has also issued infringement notices to Brownes Dairy, Union Dairy Company and Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative.

But the ACCC said processors had generally improved their compliance with the code for the start of the 2021/22 season.

On Monday it released a new report looking at code compliance during the opening of the 2021-22 season.

It identified a few areas of non-compliance that needed to be addressed.

These included:

  • dairy processors failing to publish dispute reports, including when they have had no disputes;
  • processors using rolling agreements instead of defining contract end dates; and
  • processors prematurely removing milk supply contracts from their websites.


Mr Keogh said while individual instances of non-compliance might only cause low levels of harm, widespread non-compliance undermined the code.

“Transparency is the key to addressing the bargaining power imbalances that can harm dairy farmers,” he said.

The dairy code came into effect on January 1, 2020.

Mr Keogh said it had clearly fostered positive changes in the industry, but processors needed to improve compliance in some areas.

“We call on processors to review their milk supply agreements and contracting practices, and to consider seeking legal advice to ensure they fully comply with the code,” he said.

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