March 21, 2013
The nation’s farmers have called for a Mandatory Code of Conduct on supermarkets. “We need to adjust the balance of power, by ensuring supermarkets and other major retailers adhere to a mandatory code that has real teeth,” Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey said. The VFF wants a code that will address farmer concerns around contract negotiations with retailers, provides an avenue for dispute resolution and includes a confidential complaints process and an ombudsman to oversee disputes. “However, we don’t want something that just entangles our food supply chains in red tape,” Mr Tuohey said. “Ultimately, we need to set the agenda on reforming the Competition and Consumer Act, to rebalance the power of supermarkets and give Australia’s competition watchdog some real power to resolve disputes and impose decent penalties when anyone abuses their market power.” The VFF welcomes the Federal Coalition’s commitment to a root and branch review of the Competition and Consumer Act and calls on the Labor Government to do the same. The issue of supermarkets’ power will be one of the key issues debated at the upcoming VFF conference to be held June 27-28. Supermarket representatives will go head-to head with VFF farmers and Australia’s leading competition and consumer advocate Frank Zumbo. The ‘Q&A’ style supermarket panel session will give farmers an opportunity to put questions forward to the market power panel prior to the conference as well as ask questions on the day. Any farmer not wishing to speak publicly for fear of losing contracts can submit questions anonymously.