NSW Farmers’ Horticulture Committee strongly supports the review of the Horticulture Code of Conduct and believes adoption of the recommendations will go a long way to fixing the current problems in central produce markets by increasing transparency of transactions and bringing all traders, agents and growers under the code’s power.
In a national survey of growers, more than 130 growers from across the country stated clearly that greater market transparency and contractual certainty was needed.
A common theme brought up by growers was the lack of consistency in the operation of the code and weak enforcement by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), leaving growers with no comfort that raising a complaint would resolve non-compliance by traders.
Inherent to improving the code is the adoption of the recommendations that will remove the grandfathering clause which had neutered the code since its inception; the implementation of efficient and effective dispute resolution processes, and providing the ACCC with the powers it needs to effectively police the code.
As was found by the reviewers, current dispute resolution mechanisms are irrelevant and have not been effective.
Amended dispute resolution mechanisms that focus on the disputes commonly occurring in the market, namely over quality specifications and the timing of delivery of produce and payment, are necessary for the code to be effective.
Importantly, the compliance powers contained within the code must be addressed to resolve the complacent approach to compliance with the code found by the reviewers.
NSW Farmers continues to support increasing the ACCC’s ability to use modern enforcement powers and to undertake the risk-based audit processes that will develop greater compliance across the market