FARMERS travelled from across NSW to Taree yesterday, February 8 to deliver a message to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – they want change.
Around 200 farmers attended the ACCC forum at Taree’s Club West as part of the inquiry called by Federal treasurer Scott Morrison last October into the competitiveness of prices, trading practices and the supply chain within the Australian dairy industry.
ACCC commissioner Mick Keogh, who hosted the forum, said the numbers of farmers present at the meeting spoke volumes to the ACCC.
“The room we originally booked had to been expanded to four times the size,” Mr Keogh said.
“We’re very grateful for farmers making this time available – we know what a burden it is because their time is very valuable.”
Mr Keogh said having farmers from around five processors, such as Murray Goulburn and Parmalat, sharing their views was “very useful”.
“Farmers spoke on the imbalance of power, the limits of collective bargaining and that they feel they are very much price takers, with no influence,” he said.
Mr Keogh says the significance of this inquiry is that the ACCC has obtained a mandatory information disclosure meaning both supermarkets and milk processors will be required to share information on their margins and profitability.
If information is not shared it will be a breach of the law, which will result in penalties.
“The power to get information is critical,” Mr Keogh said.
“This is a forensic look at the Australian dairy industry to see who is benefiting the most in the industry.”
The information gained at the ACCC forums around Australia and information from supermarkets and processors will be used to develop a report which is set to be handed down to the Federal treasurer in October.
“The ACCC cannot change legislation but we can give the most detailed information possible to the Federal government,” Mr Keogh added.