UDV rues ‘missed opportunity’

By Country News

The UDV has slammed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s interim report into the dairy industry, questioning the practicality of a mandatory code of conduct and overall depth of the November report.

UDV president Adam Jenkins said the organisation would not accept a mandatory code of conduct unless it could be assured the Victorian dairy industry would not be penalised economically and all positives and negatives could be evaluated.

‘‘It is naive to believe that corporations in any industry will not look for and exploit gaps in any code of practice, mandatory or not,’’ he said.

Australian Dairy Farmers echoed Mr Jenkins’ concerns, labelling a potential mandatory code of conduct ‘‘game changing’’ and reiterating the need for widespread consultation before attempts to implement.

Mr Jenkins also levelled attacks at the broader integrity of the interim report, questioning whether the ‘‘vague’’ recommendations were constructive for the industry and the Federal Government, given existing industry actions.

‘‘Furthermore, this vagueness does not reflect the time and resources that have been committed in this inquiry thus far,’’ Mr Jenkins said in his submission.

‘‘(The) UDV is greatly disappointed in the lack of depth ACCC appears to have gone into in scrutinising retail behaviour and the lack of focus on forming recommendations to address the imbalances in bargaining power held by retailers that have been recognised in this interim report.’’

He said the lack of analysis regarding supermarket behaviour, particularly $1-a-litre milk and other loss-leading practices, was a missed opportunity and lacked long-term vision, reiterating calls for more scrutiny.

‘‘The argument remains that the supermarkets are using their power in these loss-leading exercises to shift revenue from dairy product streams that would otherwise be entering the supply chain and contributing to the growth of Australian dairy to alternate, higher margin product streams of other industries.’’