Monday, 21 August 2017 12:06

ADF, UDV at odds over Senate report

Written by 
Adam Jenkins Adam Jenkins

The United Dairyfarmers of Victoria and Australian Dairy Farmers are at odds over the effectiveness of the Senate report into the dairy industry, released last week.

The Senate Standing Committee on Economics handed down 12 recommendations, including:
• Dairy processors set opening prices conservatively to avoid retrospective price step-downs that have devastating impacts on dairy farmers
• The ACCC address the issue of whether milk supply contracts fall under the scope of unfair contract term laws
• The government prioritise action to reduce the regulatory burden across the cooperative sector and support programs to facilitate the establishment of new cooperatives

United Dairyfarmers of Victoria President Adam Jenkins said the Committee missed a vital opportunity to address key inequities in the dairy industry, including the role of retailers in promoting the rise of discounted dairy products.

“Most of the Committee’s recommendations reaffirm a lot of the work the dairy industry is already undertaking to improve transparency along the supply chain,” Mr Jenkins said. 

“However, we do note that the considerable time that was spent talking about retail pricing during the inquiry doesn’t seem to be properly represented among the recommendations.”

Australian Dairy Farmers said the report was “as a positive move towards strengthening the entire dairy value chain”.

ADF President, Terry Richardson, said he recognised the interest of the Senate and their support as an acknowledgement of Parliament’s willingness to work on long-term solutions on behalf of dairy farmers.

“We are pleased to see support for the Code of Practice and the work we have been doing with the Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF), our state dairy farming members and key industry bodies to establish a fair, long-term solution to improve profitability of Australian dairy farmers,” Mr Richardson said.

“The recommendations of the report will help improve farmers’ negotiating powers, and will contribute further to ensuring there is fairness and transparency throughout the supply chain. “We have been working with industry partners on establishing solutions to a number of issues within the dairy industry for a long time and are pleased we are finally getting the tools needed to increase transparency and fairness.”

“The Effects Test, Unfair Contracts Legislation and Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, are among the tools we have been advocating for since 2011”.

The Senate report, originally due in February, was granted five extensions before it was released.
Another report, targeting competitiveness and transparency in the Australian dairy industry, is currently being conducted by The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and due to be handed down in November. 

Mr Jenkins said farmers now hoped the competition watchdog would address concerns along the entire supply chain that were absent from the Senate Committee’s report.

“This is a really good opportunity to have a lot of these concerns addressed and we’re looking forward to the ACCC report making some solid recommendations to further restore trust, transparency and to help repair the supply chain,” he said.

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