A MANDATORY dairy code will not regulate farmgate milk prices and will not regulate relationships between milk processors and retailers, according to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).
Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud has said previously the relationship between milk processors and retailers is already regulated by the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct administered by the ACCC.
Visiting DAWR staff reaffirmed this view to WA dairy farmers recently.
The Food and Grocery Code is a voluntary prescribed code introduced in 2014 and Coles, Woolworths and Aldi are the major retail chains to have signed up to it.
It includes “dairy items other than those sold for in-store consumption” in a list of prescribed food and grocery items it covers.
That code’s first three-year statutory review was completed earlier this year by a previous ACCC chairman, professor Graeme Samuel and a public comment period on his 14 recommendations closes next Wednesday.
He recommended the code remain voluntary, with only those companies signed up to it obliged to abide by it.
Mr Samuel’s review report does not mention milk or dairy items, nor are they mentioned specifically in his 14 recommendations to Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert – the Food and Grocery Code does not come under DAWR.
But commercial transparency and minimum business standards covered in the recommendations may more broadly be applied to the relationships between Coles, Woolworths and Aldi with milk processors Lion Dairy and Drinks, Brownes Dairy and Harvey Fresh.
Mr Samuel’s review found dispute resolution mechanisms in the Food and Grocery Code have been “underutilised” by suppliers “due to a fear of retribution for making complaints”.