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Revised fruit & veggie code protects farmers from rotten contracts

31 March 2017

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed additional protections for fruit and vegetable growers in the revised Horticulture Code of Conduct which will come into force tomorrow.

NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said the revised code, a product of extensive consultation between Government and industry, served to level the playing field between farmers and large wholesalers and retailers.

“Fruit and vegetable growers are entitled to negotiate for the contract of their produce with counterparties who act in a fair and equitable way,” Mr Mahar said.

The revised code requires traders and agents to provide clear documentation of their general trading terms, and to have written agreements in place with their farmer clients. Importantly it requires counterparties to negotiate in good faith.

Contracts must be compliant with the code by April 2018. Traders and agents who do not comply risk fines of up to $54,000.

Mr Mahar said the NFF was particularly pleased the revisions also applied to pre-existing trade agreements.

“Without this revision the new regulations would mean the majority of trade occurring in the sector would be exempt from complying.”

The Horticulture Code is a mandatory industry code under the Australian Competition and Consumer Act (ACCC), which sets out the minimum requirements for agents and traders in their dealings with fruit and vegetable growers.

An independent review of the code was undertaken following concerns raised by fruit and vegetable growers of anti-competitive practices across Australia’s fruit and vegetable industry.

“The positive end result of this review is a credit to all involved, including farmers, the greater horticulture supply chain and the Federal Government, in particular Senator Anne Ruston, for her role in ensuring growers are protected.”

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