Produce sellers risk bigger fines for breaching new Horticulture Code
The revised Horticulture Code of Conduct has come into effect on 1 April 2017.
The changes now mean that fresh produce traders and agents are at risk of being fined up to $54, 000 for each breach of the Code.
Australian Competition, and Consumer Commissioner, Mick Keogh, said the revised Code will provide increased protection to Australian fruit and vegetable farmers.
“Farmers producing fruit and vegetables will be given increased protection under the Horticulture Code as it improves competition and commercial practices in fresh fruit and vegetable markets in Australia,” he said.
Under the new Code, traders and agents will be required to provide clear documentation of their general trading terms, and have written agreements in place with their farmer clients to help avoid any uncertainty.
The new Code also removes the provision in the existing Code that exempted all pre-existing trading agreements.
“From 1 April 2018, the Code will apply to all transactions between farmers and agents or merchants, regardless of when any trading agreement was put in place,” Commissioner Keogh said.
New powers given to the ACCC
The new powers given to the ACCC under the revised Code will allow the regulation authority to:
- Issue infringement notices of up to $9, 000 for businesses and $1, 800 for individuals
- Seek penalties of up to $54, 000 in court for breaches of certain Code provisions
Businesses need to act in good faith
The ACCC said an important element of the new Code is that it requires negotiating parties to act in good faith or face potential fines.
“Farmers deserve fairness and honesty from their trading partners and the good faith requirement will help ensure they aren’t subjected to illegitimate business conduct,” Commissioner Keogh stated.
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