Dairy

UDV not sure code will help

By Country News

The Federal Government’s decision to move forward with a mandatory code of conduct has been met with disappointment by the UDV, which said the code would not deliver what was needed to ensure a ‘‘bright future’’ for the dairy industry.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced the mandatory code would advance last Friday, but UDV president Paul Mumford said he remained unsure of how effective the code would be.

‘‘One of the greatest issues faced by our industry in 2016 was a processors’ ability to claw back money from farmers, or step down the milk price so significantly it was in effect a claw-back,’’ he said.

‘‘We remain unsure if government legislation will resolve this or whether processors will still find a way to manipulate the system to suit their bottom line.

‘‘The Australian dairy industry is extremely complex, supplying a variety of different markets from fresh milk to export products, and a one-size-fits-all nation-wide code may not produce the best outcomes and protections for either domestic or export market suppliers.’’

He said the UDV was disappointed milk swaps and the retail sector would not be included under a code, and the consultation process raised ‘‘more questions than answers’’.

‘‘The UDV calls for the establishment of an independent dairy ombudsman to assist farmers with disputes that may fall under the code,’’ he said.

‘‘The ACCC will not investigate all complaints and an ombudsman can provide dairy farmers with information on the code, assistance in understanding and negotiating contracts for their milk supply, options to resolve disputes and access to mediation services.

‘‘We call on the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to clarify their approaches in delivering the code.’’