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Court orders Seednet to pay $1m for misleading farmers

grainsThe Federal Court has today ordered Landmark Operations Limited (Seednet) to pay a $1 million penalty for false and misleading claims on its fact sheet for its barley product Compass.

From December 2014 until 2016, Seednet told farmers that Compass barley had a strong and better straw strength and lodging resistance (ability to remain upright), compared to an older barley variety of barley, Commander, which was not the case.

Seednet also told farmers that Compass was more suited to early sowing, higher fertility paddocks and higher nitrogen rates than Commander.

“Seednet’s conduct was unacceptable because it misled farmers into sowing barley crops under a false impression about the qualities of the crops they were planting,” ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.

“As a result of Seednet’s conduct, farmers were denied the chance to make a fully informed decision on what would be the best barley variety for their farms.”

Seednet had also claimed that Compass had higher resistance to leaf rust disease than it actually did.

“Exaggerated marketing of new agricultural produce is a major concern across the industry,” Keogh said. “At the time of the release of a new crop variety, farmers and their agronomists lack other sources of independent information beyond what businesses tell them. Seed companies, and agribusinesses more generally, are warned that they must have a proper basis for marketing the qualities of new agricultural varieties and must not misrepresent the properties or performance of new products.”

The Court also ordered the agricultural business pay A$50,000 as a contribution to the ACCC’s legal costs.

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