ACCC proposes to allow collective bargaining for South Australian and Victorian potato growers

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th November 2012

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission proposes to authorise the South East Potato Growers Association and the Victorian Potato Growers Council and their members to collectively bargain with their customers, such as the major potato processors like Simplot.

The ACCC Chairman Rod Sims has said that collective bargaining by potato growers may allow them to have greater input into the terms and conditions of their contracts with potato processors, potentially leading to a more efficient Australian potato growing industry.

The ACCC’s draft determination distinguishes between the collective bargaining conduct that potato growers would be allowed to engage in and the process that the Victorian potato growers would engage in to set a recommended price for seed potatoes.

However, the ACCC does not propose to authorise seed potato growers to set a recommended price for seed potatoes. Seed potatoes are produced for seeding crops, rather than used for food consumption.

There are approximately 70 potato grower businesses in South Australia and 17 of these belong to SEPGA and largely supply processing potatoes in a limited market. VPGC represents around 290 potato growers in Victoria who supply a wide range of different potato types including fresh, processing and seed.

The ACCC had previously authorised SEPGA’s and VPGC’s collective bargaining arrangements in 2007, when it found that these arrangements would provide more benefit to the public than detriment.

The ACCC is now seeking submissions from interested parties in relation to its draft determination in this matter. In particular, the ACCC is seeking submissions regarding the seed price recommendation. Submissions close on 19 November 2012 and may be posted or lodged online.