ACGC Responds to NFF Interim Report on Code of Conduct; Allan Fels Identifies a Problem with Prices

One month ago, the NFF Interim Report recommended a Mandatory Code of Conduct for poultry meat growers. The report can be found HERE

ACGC has responded HERE

The NFF report identified that:

  • There is an imbalance of power between growers and processors
  • Supermarkets have thrown their support behind a mandatory Code and are willing to state this publicly.
  • The most efficient way to provide countervailing power is likely to be a Mandatory Code.

ACGC has noted that:

  • the timelines for the project have been too slow
  • growers only receive around 3% of the retail price of poultry, so prices are unlikely to rise if there is a mandatory code
  • the wording of the proposed mandatory Code is generally OK, but does leave some things out.
  • the report appears to have “swallowed whole” the processor allegations and claims without analysis and just plonked them into the report with no critical review – which ACGC has now provided.

In the meantime, on 7th Feb, Prof Allan Fels released an ACTU sponsored report that identifies that:price rises for business

  • prices have risen by an extraordinary amount since CoViD, largely due to the lack of competition in many sectors.
  • that government monopoly and industry concentration, particularly duopolies are resulting in price rises high than that which would be seen even with a cartel
  • that the Food and Grocery Code of Practice, which is currently voluntary, should be made mandatory – which is an interesting commentary on voluntary Codes that is useful to growers,
  • that government needs to take immediate action in the ChildCare, Energy, Aviation, Banking, Energy, Shipping costs affecting FNQ and NT, Food/Grocery, Electric Vehicles, Pharmaceuticals and “out of pocket” medical expenses sectors.

On that basis, we have calculated that growers only receive around 3% of the retail cost of chicken, considering the different value-added cuts and using supermarket retail pricing. The lends the lie to processor protestations that a Code will “dramatically increase the price of chicken”.

NOW is the time to let you elected MP know that we NEED THIS MANDATORY CODE! You are an elector, you have the right to visit your MP and make your voice heard. THIS IS LITERALLY “NOW OR NEVER”  – if you don’t get this Code, your grow fee to costs ratio will continue to fall. CAN YOU AFFORD NOT TO SEE YOUR MP RIGHT NOW?  If you can be bothered advocating for YOUR BUSINESS with your local MP, we have briefing notes available, just contact the office.

 

 

ACCC publishes Guides and Assistance around new unconscionable contracts law changes

From 9 November 2023, changes to the Australian Consumer Law now ban proposing, using, or relying on unfair contract terms in standard form contracts with consumers and small businesses.

Prior to this a Court could only declare specific terms of a contract unfair and therefore void but they were not prohibited, and the Court could impose any penalties. As of Nov 2023, Courts can impose substantial penalties on businesses and individuals who include unfair terms in their standard form contracts.

The maximum financial penalties for businesses under the new unfair contract terms law are the greater of:

  • $50,000,000;
  • three times the value of the “reasonably attributable” benefit obtained from the conduct, if the court can determine this; or
  • if a court cannot determine the benefit, 30 per cent of adjusted turnover during the breach period.

The maximum penalty for an individual is $2.5 million.

The changes apply to:

  • standard form contracts made or renewed on or after 9 November 2023.
  • a term of a standard form contract   that is varied or added on or after 9 November 2023.

Where a term of a contract is varied or added on or after 9 November 2023, the changes relevant to deciding whether a contract is a standard form contract apply to the whole contract.

The definition of a small business contract also changed. The protections now cover businesses with 100 or fewer employees or that make less than $10 million in annual turnover and apply irrespective of the value of the contract.

ACCC has also provided extensive information on what this means in your contract negotiations and how to bring this to the attention of processors. There is a whole website HERE and a handy printable guidance note   Unfair contact terms practical tips for businesses

NOTE THAT ALL POULTRY MEET GROWING CONTRACTS ARE CONSIDERED TO BE “STANDARD FORM” CONTRACTS

 

Avian Influenza – symptoms, biosecurity risks, reporting

Department of Agricuture and Fisheries, and the Australian Chicken Meat Council have published brief but important notes on recognising High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza, reporting it, risks and biosecurity.

Common signs of HPAI include:

  • sudden death
  • • respiratory distress
    • lethargy
    • inability to walk
    • no appetite
    • unusual head or neck posture
    • droopy appearance
    • diarrhoea
    • ruffled feathers
    • swollen head, wattle or comb
    • drop in egg production.

The virus can remain active in manure, water and carcasses for days to weeks if it is not processed (eg by composting temperatures). See here for more information   HPAI Newsletter – DAFF

The Australian Chicken Meat Federation, of which ACGC is a member, has also published a handy guide to what actually HAPPENS to you and your farm once an emergency disease outbreak is declared: FINAL _EAD Flyer