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TRADE PRACTICE REFORMS GIVE FARMERS MORE CLOUT

20 October 2006

Collective bargaining changes to the Trade Practices Act will make it quicker, cheaper and easier for farmers to negotiate with large business – helping to level out the power imbalance often inherent in contract negotiations, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) said today.

“The costs for farmers to collectively bargain will now be reduced by 85% – previously costing $7,500 to gain authorisation to collectively negotiate,” NFF CEO Ben Fargher said. “The new streamlined notification process will now cost around $1,000.

“This is the catalyst we need to help farmers regain greater control over their produce, renowned as the world’s best, and combat the ‘price taker’ culture that has characterised the sector for too long.

“It will also provide a valuable tool for farmers to overcome some of the market power impediments they, and other small business operators, face on a daily basis. It is often forgotten that Australia’s 130,000 farmers are small businesses. In fact, a staggering 99% of them are family owned and operated businesses.

“While this gives them great strength as diverse businesses – enabling them to specialise in commodities, adapt to emerging markets, identify and fill niche market opportunities, and value-add along the production chain, it can find them soft targets for the big end of town.

“The ability to collectively bargain with the big players will enhance their negotiating power and see them get the reward they are entitled to in producing the highest quality goods and being paid accordingly.

“NFF congratulates all who have persevered through the delays. NFF has enjoyed the unwavering support of Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, along with Small Business Minister Fran Bailey and Leader of the Nationals in the Senate Senator Ron Boswell, who have tirelessly driven this issue on behalf of Australian farm businesses.

“And Senator Steve Fielding for breaking the Senate deadlock, recognising the benefits for farm businesses and their families.”

The changes are expected to be in place early in the New Year.

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan, NFF Public Affairs, (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250 email:

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