THE Dairy Industry Code of Conduct has brought about a "significant culture change" within the dairy sector and helped increase competition at the farmgate, according to Australian Competition & Consumer Commission deputy chair Mick Keogh.
The code, which was introduced in January 2020 as a key recommendation from the ACCC's 2018 dairy enquiry, is under review, after the public submission period closed on August 29.
Speaking at a Rural Media & Communicators SA/NT breakfast, Mr Keogh conceded the code wasn't perfect, but said the ACCC was still pleased with how it was operating.
He said a lot more dairyfarmers, particularly in the southern regions of Australia, had a better understanding of their milk supply agreements and had written agreements, rather than handshake agreements.
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Mr Keogh said the "manifestly unfair" nature of previous milk supply contracts had been highlighted by retrospective price step-downs implemented by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra in 2016, which led the industry to call for change.
"The mandatory code focuses on a requirement to ensure those milk supply agreements are fair and available to farmers at least a month prior to them needing to sign up for the new milk year," he said.
"Virtually all milk supply agreements now come out on June 1 with a price, giving farmers an opportunity to compare offers and make the best decision.
"It's not perfect, but I think it has been very successful in bringing a significant culture change through the dairy sector."
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