All growers and traders operating through the Central markets must have a valid Horticulture Produce Agreement (HPA) in place by April 1, 2018 or risk being penalised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Only growers who sell directly to retailers, exports and processors are exempt and most packhouses will also need to have compliant HPAs with their suppliers.
Growcom has worked extensively over the past year to ensure that our members are informed of their rights and obligations under the Code.
To ensure a smooth transition, Growcom has developed HPA templates for growers who choose to pursue either an agency or merchant style agreement with their wholesaler or packhouse, depending on the preference of both parties.
The templates were developed with significant input from solicitors, growers and grower organisations around Australia and are available to download from the Growcom website. They can be filled in electronically or printed out and filled in by hand.
They are a useful starting point for negotiations around the horticulture produce agreement and provide a clear and easy-to-understand outline of the responsibilities of both parties.
Growcom strongly recommends for growers to have an open discussion with their traders before developing a detailed agreement, and to check the commercial terms schedule and the accompanying terms and conditions within that agreement to ensure they are not signing away their rights.
With the transition period drawing to a close, the ACCC has cracked down on breaches of compliance and issued 15 compliance checks to horticultural traders across the wholesale central markets.
The ACCC received a steep increase in submissions following the release of an online tool for people to anonymously report concerns about competition or fair trading issues. Two hundred and fifty-five reports have been lodged in the last six months, an increase of 25 per cent compared with the previous six-month period.
The easy-to-use tool allows farmers to report potential breach of laws to the ACCC while keeping their IP addresses anonymous to protect their identities.
To access the tool, visit https://app.whispli.com/accc-report-an-agricultural-issue-anonymously
To download Growcom’s HPA templates, visit https://www.growcom.com.au/horticulture-produce-agreements-hpas/