Dairy firm Lactalis Australia has been targeted by the ACCC, and is being taken to Federal Court, for alleged breaches of the Dairy Code of Conduct.
The ACCC said Lactalis circumvented the code by requiring its farming partners to sign up to an email list in order to receive a copy of its milk supply agreements – something that should freely available on its website as per the code – which had the effect of reducing transparency of its terms and conditions.
According to the case, Lactalis also required farmers that sign up to their business supply a minimum of 90 per cent of their monthly production volume, didn’t supply all relevant documents to farmers prior to the beginning of an agreement, and included its own termination clause – all of which falls outside the scope of the Code of Conduct.
“One of the key aims of the Dairy Code is to improve the clarity and transparency of trading arrangements between dairy farmers and the companies that buy their milk,” said ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh.
“It is [also] very important that farmers have access to a complete record of the milk supply agreement they have signed up to. This safeguards against any subsequent changes to the agreement, and allows both parties to understand their rights and obligations.”
The ACCC case is seeking penalties, declarations, injunctions, a corrective advertising order and costs paid by Lactalis.