National Farmers' Federation

NFF calls on Food and Grocery Code review to give code teeth

Australia’s peak farming body supports today’s announcements on the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, hoping the action will give the Code the teeth it needs to fix a system failing consumers and farmers.

National Farmers’ Federation President David Jochinke welcomed the Federal Government’s appointment of a chair to take the review forward.

“The code is failing farmers and we’ve said for a long time it should be made mandatory,” Mr Jochinke said.

“We need to get to the bottom of why there’s a growing gap between what farmers get paid and what produce is being sold for on supermarket shelves.

“It’s not just supermarkets we need answers from, we need to know who else in the supply chain is clipping the ticket and sending food prices skywards.”

The NFF calls on chair Dr Craig Emerson to adopt the recommendations of the ACCC’s Perishable Agricultural Goods Inquiry, including making the Code mandatory, removing the ability of retailers to contract out of important protections in the Code, introducing significant civil pecuniary penalties and providing genuinely independent dispute resolution.

The NFF also welcomes today’s announcement the Government will support all recommendations from the review of Part 5 of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct to support disputes to be resolved more efficiently and effectively.

Mr Jochinke said while these announcements were a positive step, there was still a long way to go to fix Australia’s competition issues.

“While reviews and inquiries are all well and good, we don’t want the Government to be distracted from pursuing immediate reform to competition laws more broadly – for instance looking at unfair trading practices or merger laws that have led to these competition issues in the first place.

“Farmers told us loud and clear in the National Farmer Priorities Survey, competition is the biggest issue keeping them up at night.

“Small family farming businesses are at the mercy of large corporates that dominate Australia’s food supply chain.

“As the cost of farming and the cost of living go through the roof, now is the time to correct this power imbalance and improve market price transparency so it’s not being used against farmers.

“Farmers need to understand how the price they are paid is determined, as should consumers.

“There are so many unknowns in farming, but pricing doesn’t have to be one of them.”