National Farmers' Federation

Competition law changes help give consumers and farmers a fair go

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the new and tougher penalties that will be imposed on companies that breach competition and consumer laws.

NFF President Fiona Simson said the peaking farming body had long-called for action on unfair contract terms provisions and she was pleased the new Parliament had followed through on the commitment made by the previous Federal Government.

“This is a win for many sectors within agriculture that have long been held to ransom by unfair contract terms by processors, wholesalers and retailers,” she said.

“The situation in the poultry meat supply chain is especially concerning, with only two processing companies controlling more than 70% of this space.

“They use their market power to subject growers to highly unfair contract terms, and the surplus squeezed from the farmer is definitely not shared with the consumer.”

While this was a positive first step, Ms Simson said further work needed to be done to ensure competitive markets in our food supply chains. This could be achieved by strengthening unfair trading provisions, reforming merger and acquisition laws, and where required, implementing industry codes of conduct to increase price transparency and address bargaining power imbalances.

“Australia’s farm sector is mostly made up of small to medium enterprises run by families in regional areas who are sandwiched between highly concentrated input and output markets. This makes effective, competition policy important for farmers to prevent exploitation by companies with significant market power.

“We all know a more level playing field means competitive markets and improved food affordability.

“Ultimately this is about giving Australian consumers and small businesses a fair go.”