ACCC committee will assist with dairy code roll-out

By Rodney Woods

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will establish a Dairy Consultative Committee to assist it with the roll-out of the mandatory dairy code of conduct and play a key role as a "conduit between industry and the competition watchdog".

Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie announced a committee would be formed while at the University of Melbourne's Dookie Campus, which Senator McKenzie and Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum toured on August 7.

Senator McKenzie explained how the committee would be established.

"We are appointing an independent chair and the ACCC will be releasing a terms of reference very shortly and then seeking an expression of interest for those within the industry to come forward and put their hands up," she said.

"We want  to see a really broad selection of people.

"Not just those from farming backgrounds but those in the dairy processing industry and retailers, spread across the country."

Senator McKenzie said it was important that once the code was completed, it suited every farmer regardless of the state they came from.

"We know in Victoria that we do produce 70 per cent of the dairy product but each  state has different and very distinct issues to them around their productive capacity and their processing issues.

"We need to make sure that’s reflected as well because the code needs to be something that is fit-for-purpose for all, not just one state's issues over another."

The UDV welcomed the announcement of the new committee and said it must be given the power to consider all claims relating to breaches of the mandatory code of conduct. “For this committee to effectively enforce the dairy mandatory code, they must consider claims of code breaches made by all dairy farmers, regardless of size,” UDV president Paul Mumford said.