ACCC probes milk price cuts

11-07-2018 by admin

AUSTRALIAN Dairy Farmers president Simone Joliffee says the competition watchdog’s decision to investigate milk processors over recent shock cuts to farm gate prices is an opportunity to provide a longer-term solution, but the “here and now” support measures for farmers remain paramount.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said his group had been following reports in relation to the recently announced controversial price cuts to dairy farmers by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra.

Mr Sims said the ACCC had been making preliminary inquiries and taking information from key stakeholders and had now “escalated the matters for investigation”.He said the issue was linked to contractual arrangements, but the ACCC was interested in the timing and notice of the cuts and the period in which farmers had been given to consider their options.

“The ACCC will consider whether the changes have involved misleading conduct or whether there are elements of unconscionable conduct,” he said.

“These will not be straightforward inquiries or assessments and it is not clear that there will be matters we can take forward.

“This said, they clearly warrant consideration.”

The ACCC did not provide a deadline for the release of its findings of the milk price downgrades or how that could progress to charges under the Competition Act.

Ms Joliffee said dairy farmers operated in a global environment and understood they were exposed to seasonal, market volatility.

However, news of the farm gate price cuts over the last two weeks had angered, frustrated and come as a shock to farmers.

Ms Joliffee said the ACCC investigation was more of a medium to longer term solution which was to be applauded, to help mitigate issues presented to farmers.

“It will ensure processors are held accountable if that’s what’s found – but the priority now is to help provide support measures in the here and now for farmers in need,” she said.

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