GET READY: Growcom is urging producers to be prepared for new compliances changes.
GET READY: Growcom is urging producers to be prepared for new compliances changes. FILE

Deadline for ACCC changes looms

ALL grower and traders operating through the central markets must have a valid Horticulture Produce Agreement in place by April 1 or risk being penalised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Only growers who sell directly to retailers, exporters and processors are exempt and most pack houses will also need to have compliant HPAs with their suppliers.

Growcom has worked extensively over the past year to ensure our members are informed of their rights and obligations under the code.

To ensure a smooth transition, Growcom has developed HPA templates for growers who choose to pursue either an agency or merchant- style agreement with their wholesaler or pack house, depending on the preference of both parties.

The templates were developed with significant input from solicitors, growers and grower organisations around Australia and are available to download from the Growcom website. They can be filled in electronically or printed out and filled in.

They are a useful starting point for negotiations around the horticulture produce agreement and provide a clear and easy-to-understand outline of the responsibilities of both parties.

Growcom strongly recommends growers have an open discussion with their traders before developing a detailed agreement and to check the commercial terms schedule and the accompanying terms and conditions within that agreement to ensure they are not signing away their rights.

With the transition period drawing to a close, the ACCC has cracked down on breaches of compliance and issued 15 compliance checks to horticultural traders across wholesale central markets.

The ACCC received a steep increase in submissions following the release of an online tool for people to anonymously report concerns about competition or fair trading issues.

Two hundred and fifty-five reports have been lodged in the last six months, an increase of 25 per cent compared with the previous six-month period.

The easy-to-use tool allows farmers to report potential breach of laws to the ACCC while keeping their IP addresses anonymous to protect their identities.

To access the tool, visit app.whispli.com/accc-report- an-agricultural-issue- anonymously.

To download Growcom's HPA templates, visit www. growcom.com.au/horticulture- produce-agreements-hpas.


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