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Dairy Farmers falls foul of ACCC over Dairy Code compliance

Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative is the latest company to be caught failing to comply with its publishing obligations under the ACCC-monitored Dairy Code. 

The ACCC said in a statement that Dairy Farmers had paid a penalty of $11,100 for failing to publish any of its standard form milk supply agreements for the 2021-22 dairy season on its website by the publication deadline. The agreements have since been uploaded. 

ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said the code was introduced to improve price transparency in the dairy industry, so it is essential that processors and co-ops make their milk supply agreements publicly available by the deadline, which is June 1 every year.

“The Dairy Code imposes certain obligations on all companies that buy milk from farmers. While DFMC doesn’t process milk, it was buying milk from member farmers to supply a processor, and so has the same legal obligations under the code,” said Keogh.

The agreements published online must cover all the circumstances in which the company intends to purchase milk in the upcoming dairy season, so farmers can compare the minimum prices and contract terms on offer.

“Failing to publish milk supply agreements on time makes it more difficult for farmers to access key information about the milk supply terms on offer. We know that many farmers have to make time-critical supply decisions in June each year,” Keogh said.

He warned other dairy companies that the ACCC will continue to monitor compliance and issue penalties where companies default on their obligations. 

In July of this year, the ACCC fined Brownes Dairy $22,200 over two breaches of the code last year, and later in the month commenced court action against Lactalis Australia for alleged breaches of the code.

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