Livestock farmers concerned about collusion

Posted by James Ferre on 8th August 2008

Gippsland livestock farmers are disenchanted in the wake of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) decision that insufficient evidence was found to further the investigation into collusion at the Koonwarra Saleyards.

In January 2008, action by processors and buyers resulted in the saleyards changing from presale weighing to post sale weighing. Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Livestock Group President Ailsa Fox said that the ACCC’s decision was disappointing and concerning for Victorian farmers. “While the ACCC has acted on a request from the VFF to investigate potential collusion it is unfortunate that under the powers currently available to the Commission they were not able to collect sufficient, substantive evidence to support that collusive conduct occurred,” Mrs Fox said. “Victorian farmers remain concerned that the investigative capacity of the ACCC is not sufficient to identify appropriate evidence in many of the market power disputes affecting agriculture. Many farmers deal in highly concentrated markets where the potential for collusive conduct, to the detriment of smaller operators, is always present and difficult to detect.”

“This again demonstrates the inadequacies of the Trade Practices Act to safeguard farmers rights,” Mrs Fox claimed. “This sort of occurrence is becoming all too common and has already been felt by livestock farmers with the recent Federal Court finding in the Hahnheuser case.”

“The VFF continues to support full disclosure of information for the selling of cattle by liveweight. Presale weighing allows potential buyers to make fit for purpose decisions and is the fairest way to sell cattle.”

“The VFF is calling for all Victorian livestock producers, transporters and agents to demand that Victorian saleyards adopt the new Code of Practice for the Weighing of Cattle to be Sold on the Basis of their Liveweight to ensure consistency and clarity across the industry,” Mrs Fox concluded.