ABOUT 30 WA poultry farmers were granted approval on Tuesday to collectively bargain on price with three chicken meat processors they supply.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) authorised WA Broiler Growers Association (WABGA) members to collectively bargain with Inghams Enterprises, Baiada Poultry and Mount Barker Chicken.
Suppliers can form a bargaining group to negotiate with the individual processor provided there is not price collusion between groups supplying different processors.
The ACCC authority is granted for 10 years and provides statutory protection for WABGA members who might otherwise risk court action under competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
"These collective bargaining arrangements are likely to result in transaction cost savings and give broiler growers greater say in the terms and conditions of their contracts with chicken meat processors," ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh said.
"Farmers can sometimes be better off negotiating with their suppliers or customers as a group.
"Working together, they can negotiate better terms and conditions with larger businesses and create efficiencies that could ultimately benefit consumers through cheaper chicken meat prices," Mr Keogh said.
"We have found that collective bargaining by small farming groups is generally in the public interest," he said.
"We have approved almost all collective bargaining arrangements where participation is voluntary for all parties to the negotiation.
"We also recognise that in certain circumstances a collective boycott may be seen as necessary to achieve some of the efficiency benefits from collective bargaining.
"Each proposal is assessed on its merits," he said.
The ACCC has previously authorised similar collective bargaining arrangements for chicken growers in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.