Bargaining rule extended for dairy

THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has extended an exemption allowing dairy farmers to collectively bargain with processors for a further 10 years.

Australian Dairy Farmers Ltd was first granted authorisation by the ACCC in 2002.

Since that time dairy farmers have formed 18 collective bargaining groups. These groups represent about 500 farming families.

"This is an important example of how the ACCC can assist small businesses, particularly those in the agricultural sector, to achieve better outcomes in their negotiations with processors," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

This is the second time the ACCC has undertaken a comprehensive review of the Australian Dairy Farmers arrangements. It is clear from submissions received that collective bargaining by dairy farmers is both supported and well understood by the industry.

The ACCC considers collective bargaining by dairy farmers has the potential to deliver better access to information and resources as well as improved input into

contract negotiations. Collective bargaining does this by providing an effective mechanism through which productive contractual discussions can be achieved.

Collective bargaining can also reduce the transaction costs associated with negotiating supply arrangements for both dairy farmers and processors.

The ACCC may authorise collective bargaining arrangements when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.

Authorisation provides immunity from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer

Act 2010.

Alternatively, small businesses can obtain immunity from legal action under the Act for such arrangements by lodging a collective bargaining notification.

The ACCC's determination on the Australian Dairy Farmer's application will be available from the ACCC website, www.accc.gov.au/AuthorisationsRegister and by following the links to this matter.


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