Hort Code gives growers more protection
Citrus growers will be given increased protection under the revised nation-wide Horticulture Code, which came into effect on April 1.
The revised code sets out mandatory requirements for traders and agents, including potential penalties of up to $54,000.
Traders and agents will be required to provide clear documentation of their general trading terms, and to have written agreements in place with growers.
The revised code also removes the provision in the existing code that exempted all pre-existing trading agreements, and which meant it did not apply to the majority of trade occurring in the sector.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Commissioner Mick Keogh said the new code will help avoid much of the commercial uncertainty that currently exists in these markets.
“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. This is a real win for farmers,” Mick said.
The changes provide the ACCC with new powers to:
- Issue infringement notices of $9,000 for businesses, and $1,800 for individuals
- Seek penalties of up to $54,000 in court for breaches of certain Code provisions.
“Infringement notices will allow the ACCC to quickly deal with conduct it believes breaches the Code, while tougher court penalties should provide a stronger deterrent than was the case under the current code,” Mick said.
Mick said an important and welcome new addition to the Code requires negotiating parties to act in good faith, or face potential fines.
“Growers deserve fairness and honesty from their trading partners and the good faith requirement will help ensure they aren’t subjected to illegitimate business conduct,” Mick said.
For more information about the Horticulture Code click here.