VFF welcomes Federal Government’s response to Hort Code review

Monday 13 February 2017

THE Victorian horticulture industry has welcomed the Federal Government’s pledge to ensure practices in the sector stay fair and balanced with the release today of the Government’s long-awaited response to the independent inquiry into the Horticulture Code of Conduct.

The Victorian Farmers Federation welcomed the Government’s commitment to implement measures such as a requirement that all parties “act in good faith” and that agreements entered into prior to December 2006 will now have to conform to the new Code.

“We believe the Government has been listened to growers who have for years complained about a lack of commercial transparency in the horticulture industry,” VFF Horticulture Vice President Emma Germano said.

“We have consistently been seeking a more workable Code to stop the confusion that currently exists.”

But Ms Germano said the VFF still had concerns about the recommendation allowing a formula to determine how much growers are paid.

“We don’t want the industry to go back to the dark old days of hybrid trading, but we do take some comfort in the fact there needs to be prior mutual agreement before a formula can be used for pooling and averaging,” she said.

“Pooling and averaging is important, particularly in the pome fruit industry, where the fruit is harvested over several months but is distributed over 12 months.”

Ms Germano said that while the VFF broadly accepted the inquiry’s recommendations, it was frustrating that retailers, covered under the voluntary Food and Grocery Code, would not be subject to the new provisions in the Horticulture Code.

“We’re pleased overall with the Government’s response to the inquiry, but it’s still disappointing to see retailers able to escape the scrutiny that comes with a mandatory code,” she said.

Media Contacts:

Emma Germano, VFF Horticulture Vice President: 0423 774 477

Ashley Mackinnon, VFF Public Affairs Officer: 0417 165 784