The ACCC has issued 15 compliance check notices to horticultural traders across the wholesale central markets, signalling an increased focus on enforcing the Horticulture Code of Conduct.
The recently released ACCC publication Small Business in Focus also reported the ACCC had been contacted by nearly 255 agricultural traders with reports and enquiries, an increase of 25 per cent compared with the previous six months.
The ACCC has been working with industry organisations like Growcom to educate horticulture growers and traders about their rights and obligations, and they are now shifting focus to enforce the Code.
The 12-month transition period for the revised Code ends on April 1. All growers must have a compliant horticulture produce agreement in place by then, unless they sell directly to retailers, exporters and processors.
Templates are available on the ACCC website, and Growcom has also developed templates for growers, which are available on the Growcom website.
In October 2017, the ACCC launched its online tool for people in the agriculture sector to anonymously report concerns about competition or fair trading issues.
This anonymous tool was particularly developed with the horticulture industry in mind, off the back of grower concerns about potential retribution within the supply chain if they contacted the ACCC.
The easy-to-use, secure and anonymous channel allows farmers to report potential breaches of laws the ACCC enforces, such as suspected breaches of the new Hort Code.
Growers can anonymously contact the ACCC’s agriculture team from any web-enabled device including a PC, smart phone, laptop or tablet. The tool encrypts the information and removes the person’s IP address so their identity is kept anonymous.
Growcom commends the ACCC for this initiative, and encourages anyone within the horticulture sector with concerns to use it. Growers can also call the small business hotline on 1300 302 021.
To access the tool, visit https://app.whispli.com/accc-report-an-agricultural-issue-anonymously.