In a year dominated by issues around worker exploitation and the Horticulture Code of Conduct, Growcom has worked hard to ensure that the Queensland horticulture industry has been adequately represented at the state and national levels.
Growcom, through the Fair Farms Initiative, has had the opportunity to take our workplace relations expertise national. We facilitated a series of workshops in the Northern Territory and Western Australia designed to help growers understand their legal obligations and ensure workers are treated fairly on farms. We also piloted the new Fair Farms Freshcare module which is the first step toward a third party audited certification for growers.
Growcom has made significant steps towards ending poor treatment of vulnerable workers across production horticulture this year. We are committed to continuing this work well into the future and lifting the standards of compliance across the sector by working more closely with government, industry and consumers.
Earlier this year we welcomed the new Horticulture Code of Conduct which gives fruit and vegetable growers the ability to develop new trading relationships on fair terms. To address concerns the ACCC would be cracking down on non-compliance, Growcom held a series of workshops in key regions in Queensland to teach growers about their obligations and rights under the Code. The workshops, sponsored by the HiveXChange and supported by the VegNet program, were a complete success, servicing more than 300 growers.
Growcom additionally released horticulture produce agreement (HPA) templates to assist growers in pursing an agency or merchant style agreement with their wholesaler or packager. These templates help outline the responsibilities of both parties and fulfil the legal requirement of a HPA under the Hort Code. Developed through rigorous consultations with solicitors and growers, the templates can be customised to suit each business’ needs.
We were especially pleased to support the National Farmers’ Federation with their case to enable packing sheds not physically located on farms to utilise the Horticulture Award as opposed to the more inflexible Storage Services and Wholesale Award.