White Paper on Agricultural Competitiveness indicates ACCC to Boost Engagement with Farmers

Monday 13 July 2015 @ 2.13 p.m. | Trade & Commerce

On 4 July 2015, the Federal Government released their White Paper on Agricultural Competitiveness. The White Paper sets out the Australian Government’s roadmap of practical actions to grow our agriculture sector because stronger farmers mean a stronger economy; and responds to the ideas, feedback and comments from interested parties—including farmers, industry, business and the community—about how the agriculture sector remains a significant contributor to the economy and local communities and takes advantage of available opportunities.

Aims of the White Paper

According to the Federal Government, the aims of the new funding and white paper are:

  • A fairer go for farm businesses - through fairer competition for farm produce; better regulation and a better tax system for farm business;
  • Building the infrastructure for the 21st century;
  • Strengthening approaches to drought and risk management - through drought preparation and in-drought support;
  • Farming smarter; and
  • Accessing premium markets through international trade.

The Federal Government states:

"The White Paper outlines the initiatives and commitments by the Australian Government for each of our five priority areas for action. It is a $4 billion investment in our farmers...Our vision is to build a more profitable, more resilient and more sustainable agriculture sector to help drive a stronger Australian economy...The opportunities for the sector are enormous. We sit on the edge of the strongest growing region in the world, have a developed agriculture sector, have world-class food safety and environmental credentials, possess modern technology, have a strong economy and employ skilled labour...The agriculture sector is well placed to prosper."

Reaction from Industry and Representatives

Acting Chair Delia Rickard from the ACCC said:

“The ACCC will prioritise detecting, deterring and taking action against conduct that breaches theCompetition and Consumer Act (2010) (CCA) that affects farmers and small businesses in rural and regional areas, particularly cartels, misuse of market power, and misleading or unconscionable conduct...The ACCC will strengthen its engagement with agricultural industries to understand factors effecting competition in rural and regional markets. This will also enable the ACCC to better explain its decisions to farmers and regional small businesses.”

“A more farm-savvy and proactive ACCC will encourage fair-trading and strengthen competition in agricultural supply chains,” said Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce in a statement. The Nationals – of whom Joyce is deputy leader – have been agitated at the strong power of Coles and Woolworths to beat down prices of suppliers.

Delia Rickards responded:

“The ACCC will strengthen its engagement with agricultural industries to understand factors effecting competition in rural and regional markets. This will also enable the ACCC to better explain its decisions to farmers and regional small businesses.”

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