The Australian government has started formal consultations on a mandatory code of conduct for the dairy industry.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud marked the beginning of formal consultations while visiting dairy farmers in Shepparton, with the Member for Murray, Damian Drum.
“The dairy industry came to me with a united position – that it wanted a mandatory code of conduct,” Mr Littleproud said.
The code aims to address the imbalance in bargaining power between farmers and processors.
A mandatory dairy code was a key recommendation of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's dairy inquiry.
The industry-developed voluntary code will remain in place while the mandatory code is being developed, and the outcomes of a review of the voluntary code will be considered when developing the mandatory code.
Mr Littleproud said consultations would occur across Australian dairy regions.
"I want all dairy farmers, processors and people interested about the future of dairying in this country to get involved," he said.
“The code will help make negotiations and contract arrangements between farmers and processors fairer and more transparent and include a dispute resolution process.
"However this alone will not fix the dairy industry or increase farm gate prices—real structural reform is needed.”
Member for Murray Damian Drum said this was an important step in supporting local dairy farmers.
“Milk is the most valuable agricultural commodity in the Shepparton region - worth $464 million in 2016–17,” Mr Drum said.
“Our farmers have been hit by retrospective price cuts and now drought.
"A mandatory code will help deliver transparency and support stability in the industry long term.”
Dates and locations for consultations will be released shortly.
More information about the development of the code can be found on the have your say website. The contact email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and phone number is 1300 044 940.