The overdue Senate inquiry into the dairy industry gained a muted response from farmer groups when the final report was released last Friday.
The Senate Standing Committee on Economics handed down 12 recommendations, including that:
■Dairy processors set opening prices conservatively to avoid retrospective price step-downs that have devastating impacts on dairy farmers.
■The ACCC address the issue of whether milk supply contracts fall under the scope of unfair contract term laws.
■The government prioritise action to reduce the regulatory burden across the co-operative sector and support programs to facilitate the establishment of new co-operatives.
UDV president Adam Jenkins said the farmer group acknowledged the recommendations, but that the committee had missed a vital opportunity to address key inequities in the dairy industry, including the role of retailers in promoting the rise of discounted dairy products.
‘‘Most of the committee’s recommendations reaffirm a lot of the work the dairy industry is already undertaking to improve transparency along the supply chain,’’ Mr Jenkins said.
‘‘However, we do note that the considerable time that was spent talking about retail pricing during the inquiry doesn’t seem to be properly represented among the recommendations.’’
The Senate report, originally due in February, was granted five extensions before it was finally released last week.
Another report, targeting competitiveness and transparency in the Australian dairy industry, is being conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and is due to be handed down in November.
Australian Dairy Farmers president Terry Richardson said he was pleased to see support for the code of practice and the work the group has been doing with the Australian Dairy Products Foundation, the state dairy farming members and other key industry bodies to establish a fair, long-term solution to improve the profitability of Australian dairy farmers.
‘‘The recommendations of the report will help improve farmers’ negotiating powers, and will contribute further to ensuring there is fairness and transparency throughout the supply chain,’’ Mr Richardson said.