Farmers voice concerns on Australia’s competition policy

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Image credit: National Farmers’ Federation

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and Assistant Minister for Competition Andrew Leigh have hosted a roundtable in Canberra where farmer representatives from across Australia discussed various issues.

The roundtable took place as the Australian Government continues to review competition legislation, and as supermarket pricing comes under heightened scrutiny, with a Senate enquiry expected to begin in 2024.

According to NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar, the Federal Government must hear and act on farmers’ concerns.

“Our members are increasingly frustrated by the imbalance in market power between small family farming businesses, and the large corporates that dominate Australia’s food supply chain,” Mahar said.

Adertisement

He noted that the roundtable provided a chance for industry representatives to express their concerns directly to the government, aiming to accelerate the reform of Australia’s competition settings.

“What we heard is farmers are fed up with the lack of transparency, and worried about the continued consolidation of our supply chains,” he added.

“We’re encouraged by the Government’s response to these issues so far, but we know reform is hard, so we need to make sure we’re seeing meaningful changes to give farmers a fair go,” he continued.

The following issues and policy recommendations were raised at yesterday’s Roundtable:

  • Significant competitive reform is required in Australia to ensure a sustainable and successful food production sector.
  • Market price transparency.
  • More resources for the ACCC to guarantee that it has the capacity and authority to adequately monitor and probe highly concentrated markets that have the potential to harm consumers and companies.
  • Greenwashing and mandated reporting are already prevalent in domestic supply chains. Farmers and companies are taking the initiative in this area, but with little to no reward.
  • Industry Codes of Conduct are valuable but need teeth.
  • Agency Agreements – The roundtable reviewed the increasing use of agency agreements as a legal form of retail price maintenance and advocated for their prohibition.