A dairy farmers’ milk co-operative has paid a penalty of over $11,000 after it failed to publish any of its standard form milk supply agreements for the 2021-2022 dairy season on its website on time.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued an infringement notice to Dairy Farmers’ Milk Co-operative for a Dairy Code of Conduct breach.
The Dairy Code requires most companies that buy milk from farmers to publish standard form milk supply agreements on their websites by 2.00 pm on June 1st, every year.
According to a statement from the Australian government, these agreements must cover all the circumstances in which the company intends to purchase milk in the upcoming dairy season, so farmers can compare the minimum prices and contract terms on offer.
The technical breach related to publishing obligations. There was a delay of nearly an hour in sharing the standard form agreements on the website.
The ACCC alleges that DFMC did not publish any of its standard form milk supply agreements for the 2021-2022 dairy season on its website by the publication deadline.
However, the dairy farmers’ co-op has since published this data on its website.
According to ACCC deputy chair, Mick Keough, the Code was introduced to improve price transparency in the dairy industry.
Therefore, he said it is “essential” that processors and co-ops make their milk supply agreements publicly available by the deadline.
“Failing to publish milk supply agreements on time makes it more difficult for farmers to access key information about the milk supply terms on offer.”
“We know that many farmers have to make time-critical supply decisions in June each year.”
He said it is “important” that milk processors and other milk purchasers understand and “actively” comply with Dairy Code requirements.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the co-operative said:
“Importantly, all DFMC farmer members and interested parties had access to all farmgate milk pricing schedules and supply conditions by the 2 pm deadline on June 1st.”
“DFMC acknowledges and apologises to our farmer members and the ACCC for the breach.”
“We have worked openly and constructively with ACCC staff to address the issues raised in the infringement notice.”
“With a small management team, DFMC manages more than 20 different farmgate milk supply agreements.”
Also, it said it is now undertaking a review of all processes and timelines associated with the code’s requirements
Furthermore, they aim to make the” necessary changes” to ensure compliance in 2022.
“The DFMC independent director and chair of the audit and risk committee will guide this review process. They will present the outcomes to the DFMC board.”
“DFMC continues to be a strong supporter of the code and the principles underpinning its development,” the spokesperson concluded.