Wholesalers heard in drafting of new Horticulture Code

Fresh Markets Australia

MEDIA RELEASE

27 March 2017

Wholesalers heard in drafting of new Horticulture Code

Australia’s fresh produce wholesaling sector’s representative organisation, Fresh Markets Australia (FMA) has seen months of negotiation come to fruition this week with the Federal Government’s release of a new mandatory Horticulture Code of Conduct.

The new Code will take effect from 1 April 2017 and replaces the decade-old anticompetitive and inflexible existing regulation that saw wholesalers and growers wrestling with overly prescriptive and irrelevant Government red tape.

FMA Chairman, Shane Schnitzler, has thanked the Federal Government for listening and painstakingly working through the intricacies to draft more commercial and workable regulations.

“The process has been relatively harmonious and with far greater political interest and support than experienced with the introduction of the existing Code 10 years ago, with FMA’s voice largely heard and reflected in the drafting of the regulation,” Mr Schnitzler said.

“The new Code will offer increased flexibility and a reduction in the prescriptive clauses which contributed to making the existing Code unworkable.

“The outcome recognises that with over 12 million transactions annually, Central Market wholesalers do generally have good working relationships with their growers.”

“It will, however, impose new requirements on wholesalers (traders) and growers including ongoing oversight by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the introduction of monetary penalties for breaches.”

Mr Schnitzler said that in an industry comprised predominantly of small business, it was concerning that maximum penalties to growers and traders of up to $54,000 per breach could apply, which could result in financial hardship for growers and traders alike.

“The penalties have been set using other Industry Codes as a benchmark that were designed to address issues with multinational and large corporate operations and not small business,” Mr Schnitzler said.

“The ACCC must commit to only applying the penalty measures in circumstances when there have been blatant and ongoing breaches of the Code or we could find our growers and the majority of wholesalers left hurting over simple misdemeanours,” he said.

FMA has welcomed a new rule for written Horticulture Produce Agreements that allows them to be accepted by email and fax along with more flexible trading terms.”

“FMA sees that educating the industry will be key to the success of the new Code and will certainly be working with its 400 in Australia in Australia’s six Central Markets to encourage compliance,” Mr Schnitzler said.

“In the past, the full onus has been on the wholesalers to advise their growers on their regulatory obligations with the ACCC monitoring only the wholesaling sector for breaches if any of its 15,000 growers who supply fresh produce did not comply with the mandatory paperwork.

“This Code places the responsibility on everyone to abide by the law, making it a much more even playing field for the whole industry in which to operate.”

It is still both unfair and anticompetitive that other supply chains in the fresh produce industry, such as retailers purchasing direct off growers, are not subject to any similar mandatory regulatory requirements or monetary penalties. It is also very disappointing that the Code has only been released by the Government three working days before it becomes effective, and that the transitional provisions will not adequately provide for the uptake of the new Code.

– ENDS –

Media Contact

Andrew Young, Executive Director

fma@freshmarkets.com.au / 0438 388 411

Fresh Markets Australia's Horticulture Code of Conduct Review Submissions September 2015

Horticulture Code of Conduct Review Recommendations
Responses for Horticulture Code of Conduct Review
Assessment of Horticulture Code of Conduct Review
Horticulture Code of Conduct Review Additional Matters

Wholesalers put their case

Wholesalers 10 key factors - Horticulture Code of Conduct Review
Australian economic impacts - Horticulture Code of Conduct Review
Dispute Resolution & Horticulture Code of Conduct Review
Small business impacts - Horticulture Code of Conduct Review

MEDIA RELEASES


   Wholesalers heard in drafting of new Horticulture Code

   “This Code places the responsibility on everyone to abide by the law, making it a much more even playing field for the whole industry in which to operate.”

 

Wholesalers welcome Government’s Code response

“Fresh Markets Australia (FMA), has welcomed the Federal Government’s long anticipated response to the review of the Horticulture Code of Conduct.”

Backpacker fiasco is harming horticulture supply chain

“FMA has called on the Federal Parliament to put an end to the political point scoring and agree on the tax rate for Australia’s overseas backpacker labour before more damage is done to the $9 billion horticulture industry.”

Clarification on ACCC’s horticulture report

“FMA says that while the release of the ACCC’s “Perspectives in horticulture and viticulture” shows some common ground, the wholesaling sector must once again clarify key areas regarding the report’s conclusions.”

Code compliance a two-way street

“The task of promoting compliance has been made very difficult because of the unworkable requirements of the Code,”

Andrew Young, Executive Director

Growcom scare campaign calculated to ‘drive wedge between growers and Market wholesalers’

Fresh Markets Australia is outraged that false claims being made by rural lobby group Growcom appear deliberately calculated to drive a wedge between producers and Market wholesalers.

Andrew Young, Executive Director

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About Fresh Markets Australia

The Australian Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries Limited trading as Fresh Markets Australia (FMA), is the national organisation representing each of the six Market Chambers, which themselves are organisations which represent the fruit and vegetable wholesalers located in each of Australia’s six central Markets (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Newcastle).

In total, the organisation represents in excess of 430 Market wholesaling businesses. Market wholesalers are involved in the sale of some 50-60% of the fresh produce sold across Australia in servicing the requirements of fruit and vegetable retailers, secondary wholesalers/provedores, foodservice industry businesses, processors, exporters and the public. Over 15,000 growers supply to businesses within the Central Market system. The total turnover of businesses in the Central Markets exceeds some $7 billion annually.

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Fresh Markets Australia is proud to work collaboratively with the five central produce markets.

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