ACCC authorises vegetable growers collective bargaining

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 25th February 2010

A draft ruling by the ACCC today allowed members of the Tasmanian Farmers & Graziers Association to continue collectively negotiating contracts with major vegetable processors McCain Foods and Simplot Australia (producers of Edgell and Birds Eye brands) for their produce. Simplot Australia purchased around 350 million kg of Tasmanian vegetables in the 2004/2005 year.

The decision will allow members of the TFGA to make agreements as a group with processors. Collective negotiation can raise concerns under the Trade Practices Act 1974, but the ACCC may grant authorisation when it is satisfied that “the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment”.

Participation is voluntary for both growers and processors, and growers are not permitted to collectively boycott processors who do not participate. The agreement is expected to be extended until 2015.