National Farmers' Federation


The National Farmer’s Federation (NFF) is hopeful that new trade practice reforms that streamline the ability for farmers to collectively negotiate will pass through the Senate following a unanimous show of support by the major small business associations.
Passage through the Senate of Trade Practices Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2005 stalled last year due to concerns in some quarters about the mergers and acquisitions provisions within the Bill.
“We certainly hope now that the small business community has given the tick to the Bill, that Senators will reconsider their previous opposition and allow it to pass,” NFF CEO Ben Fargher said.
“NFF has taken an active interest in the reform to the Trade Practices Act because farmers have so much to gain, particularly through the collective bargaining provisions, which will make it easier, quicker and cheaper for farmers to collectively negotiate with large businesses.
“In essence, the Bill will give farmers more options in their contractual negotiations, enabling them to more effectively manage the market power imbalances they face.
“The proposed reforms will also reduce costs and increase penalties for those who contravene the Trade Practice Act, which should serve as a genuine deterrent to future anti-competitive behaviour.
“NFF has carefully considered claims that the merger and acquisition component of the reforms may be ‘anti-small business’. NFF sees no danger that the proposed changes will weaken the existing test to determine whether a merger will adversely impact on competition and is therefore comfortable on this matter.
“We also note that the recent modifications to the Bill will further strengthen the role of the ACCC within the mergers and acquisitions authorisation process, giving it full powers to assist the Australian Competition Tribunal.
“NFF hopes that the overwhelming support of the small business community will convince Senators that the Bill should be passed without delay. This will allow the next stage of trade practice reforms to proceed – namely, strengthening the misuse of market power and unconscionable conduct provisions within the Trade Practise Act.”

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