ACCC to launch in-depth investigation into Australia’s dairy industry

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will launch a comprehensive inquiry into the national dairy industry to investigate the sharing of risk along the supply chain, supply agreements and contracts, competition, bargaining and trading practices.

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The inquiry will be led by ACCC’s Agriculture Unit, which was established through an $11.4 million commitment by the Coalition Government in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said the inquiry will empower the ACCC to demand and obtain information from companies, and take legal action if required.

“Our dairy farmers deserve fair returns at the farm gate, as well as transparency in milk price arrangements and supply contracts, which is why I can announce the ACCC will undertake a detailed inquiry into our national dairy industry,” Minister Joyce said.

“An in-depth and independent inquiry is a thorough and fair way to uncover inefficiencies and inequities that our farmers face – and identify a way forward. I encourage everyone in the dairy industry to contribute to the inquiry—there will be confidentiality arrangements in place to ensure the ACCC gets the information it needs while protecting commercial interests.”

The investigation, to commence in November, will result in the release of an issues paper which will see ACCC engage with stakeholders through public and private hearings, and written submissions to deliver a final report to government in the second half of 2017.

Minister Joyce, who attended a dairy symposium in Melbourne on Friday, said the meeting gathered key stakeholders together to facilitate industry-led options to address challenges facing the Australian dairy industry and discuss ways to improve the industry’s prospects going forward.

“The symposium was an opportunity to facilitate an industry-led discussion to better manage risk along the dairy supply chain, including managing the effects of world dairy prices. We covered a number of topics including the outlook for the Australian dairy industry and options for improving milk price transparency, strengthening bargaining and restoring industry confidence,” he said.

“The Coalition Government will continue to work with dairy farmers and processors to strengthen the industry, including our election commitment of up to $2 million to establish a commodity milk price index—the ACCC’s findings from this inquiry will be a vital source of information when looking at options for the index.”