COMPLY with the new code of conduct or be stung with fines of more than $60,000 is the message from the competition watchdog to the horticulture industry.
The Horticulture Code of Conduct was introduced in April to increase trade transparency. Industry has until April 2018 to be fully compliant.
The code mandates growers supplying an agent or merchant must have a written contract detailing terms of payment and price calculation.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission agricultural commissioner Mick Keogh said major breaches of the code could attract fines up to $63,000, while smaller breaches could receive infringement notices of $10,500 for body corporates and $2,100 for individuals.
“Later this year the ACCC plans to use its investigative powers to check the industry’s level of compliance with the Horticulture Code. If code breaches are detected, the ACCC may take enforcement action,” Mr Keogh told the NSW Farmers Horticulture Forum today.
“The revised Code aims to address much of the the commercial uncertainty that has existed for many years in these markets, and which numerous inquiries and reports have identified,” Mr Keogh said.
“While the ACCC will continue to educate the industry about the revised Code, businesses are now on notice that ensuring compliance with industry codes, including the Horticulture Code, is a priority for the ACCC.”
All existing agreements between farmers and agents/wholesalers must be compliant with the new code by April 1 next year.
Any agreement made or renewed after April 1 2017 must comply immediately with the new code.