The National Farmers Federation (NFF) is standing firm on its position to support a mandatory code of conduct following an invitation from Coles, Woolworths and the Australian Food and Grocery Council to re-join negotiations on their preferred voluntary model.
The NFF left negotiations with the both the supermarket giants and the AFGC in March last year, sighting a loss of confidence in the proposed voluntary code. NFF president at the time, Jock Laurie said that the federation “lacked confidence that the voluntary code could deliver the strong outcomes that farmers expect.”
Current NFF president, Brent Finlay said told The Weekly Times Now that group is continuing to back a mandatory code as they believe that it will give producers the “protection they need.”
“We talk to Coles and Woolworths and we will continue to do so respectfully, but our position hasn’t changed and our member groups haven’t formed a view of getting back into serious talks with them,” said Finlay.
It has been reported that the major supermarket players, Aldi and Costco have also been approached to sign the voluntary code of conduct.
The code, which has been in negotiations for almost two years, was designed to ensure that retailers did not misuse their market power.
CEO of the AFGC, Gary Dawson, says that a voluntary code would be just as effective as a mandatory code in ensuring the participation of the supermarket giants, especially considering failure to sign up to the code could result in poor supplier relationships.
“It’s in the interests of consumers, suppliers and retailers to have an efficient and viable supply chain in Australia. We want to get on with the job of building a competitive sector, both domestically and internationally, and will continue to pursue mechanisms for improving relationships across the supply chain,” Dawson told Food Magazine.
"The AFGC remains committed to the process which began last year to work with government, the ACCC, other industry bodies and the major retailers to develop a voluntary industry code which is enforceable by the ACCC.
“Whether an industry code is mandatory or voluntary, the key issue is that it must be effective without simply adding unnecessary compliance costs on suppliers.”