Look to UK Dairy’s voluntary code of conduct – Dairy Connect

The Australian dairy industry would do well to consider adopting key sections of UK Dairy’s voluntary code of conduct governing equitable relationships between producers and processors.

CEO of Australia’s Dairy Connect, Shaughn Morgan, said today the UK code was formulated following a major report into milk pricing by the House of Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 18 months ago.

“Elements in the UK code could be invaluable for setting out protocols and ethical practices by parties all along the Australian industry supply chain,” he said.

“The UK report recognised that the main driver for the downturn in UK milk prices was volatility in global markets and there should be greater promotion of dairy produce.

“In particular, the UK industry supported the recommendation that the government explore practical steps to bolster the export of UK dairy products.

“These steps included initiatives such as the simplification of export documentation and the funding of foreign inspection visits.

“The report also said that longer-term country of origin labelling would be of benefit to the industry and to consumers.”
Shaughn Morgan said that Dairy Connect strongly believed that the industry’s future lay largely in its own hands and industry development was the most effective mechanism to protect producers from the impact of world price volatility.

“There’s also an extended role for industry watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in more actively supervising relationships particularly those between producers and processors.”

Meanwhile, dairy farmers and milk processors could be reviewed by the ACCC in the wake of an industry symposium convened by Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce this month.

Chair Rod Sims told ABC Rural that while he didn’t want to pre-empt any decision, the dairy industry was ‘a very strong candidate’ for the next major agriculture review, likely to start in November.

The commission is already investigating specific issues surrounding Murray Goulburn and Fonterra’s decisions to slash milk prices and clawing back the difference from farmers.