Time to make the Horticulture Code work

NSW Farmers continues to work with other peak fruit and vegetable grower organisations to see the adoption of the recommendations contained within the final report from the independent review of the Horticulture Code of Conduct.
Our Horticulture Committee strongly supports the review of the Code and believes that adoption of the recommendations will go a long way to fixing the current problems in central produce markets by increasing transparency of transactions and finally bringing all traders, agents and growers under the Code’s power.
In a national survey of growers over 130 growers from across the country stated clearly that greater market transparency and contractual certainty was needed.  A common theme brought up by growers was the lack of consistency in the operation of the Code and weak enforcement by the ACCC, leaving growers with no comfort that raising a complaint would resolve non-compliance by traders.

Inherent to improving the Code is the adoption of the recommendations that will remove the grandfathering clause which had neutered the Code since its inception; the implementation of efficient and effective dispute resolution processes; and providing the ACCC with the powers it needs to effectively police the Code.

As was found by the reviewers, current dispute resolution mechanisms are irrelevant and have not been effective.  Amended dispute resolution mechanisms that focus on the disputes commonly occurring in the market, namely over quality specifications and the timing of delivery of produce and payment, is necessary for the Code to be effective. 

Importantly the compliance powers contained within the Code must be addressed to resolve the complacent approach to compliance with the code found by the reviewers.  NSW Farmers continues to support increasing the ACCC’s ability to use modern enforcement powers and to undertake the risk based audit processes that will develop greater compliance across the market.

The administration and enforcement of the Code has struggled since its commencement. It is time to ensure that the Code is workable and fair for all parties.

By Brett Guthrey, Horticulture Chair NSW Farmers 

Contact: NSW Farmers

Phone: 1300 794 000

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