Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative (DFMC) strongly supports the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) call for a mandatory code of conduct to improve contracting practices between dairy processors and farmers.

Introduction of a mandatory code is a key recommendation of the ACCC inquiry into the Australian dairy industry, released this week.

DFMC Chair Andrew Burnett says introduction of a mandatory code is vital to creating a fairer industry, in particular to provide a remedy in the case of disputes.

“The mandatory code will also lessen the chance of disputes occurring, as all parties know that only genuine grievances will be addressed and resolved,” says Mr Burnett.

“DFMC is a long-term supplier to Lion Dairy & Drinks, with whom we have had dispute mechanisms in place for many years. Although it’s not been used for a number of years, it was an important element to ensure fair and constructive negotiations.”

The ACCC report suggests that an independent body involving industry expertise be formed for the purpose of dispute resolution, allowing parties to have the dispute resolved quickly, and not waste time and money finding an appropriate dispute resolution service or expert.

DFMC welcomes the acknowledgement that financing is an issue in any dispute resolution process.

“The processor will usually have much greater resources and finance than any aggrieved farmer or group of farmers. A mandatory code and an independent expert will enable farmers to compete on equal terms.

“Key recommendations on contracting practices and the code of conduct are in line with our current arrangements with Lion,” said Mr Burnett.

“These arrangements have led to a long and happy “win-win” relationship and show that the cooperative model can still have a strong place in Australian dairy.”

DFMC has in principle support for an extended Milk Supply Agreement with Lion, with terms and conditions currently under discussion.

The final report from the ACCC can be accessed here.

DFMC has proudly represented dairy farmers since 1900 and currently represents over 350 farmers from more than 250 farms in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

For more information on DFMC visit www.dfmc.org.au.

 Media information:

Gabrielle Sheehan, gabrielle@curriecommunications.com.au, 0409 945 001