The week's news and insights from the National Farmers' Federation
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Welcome to the NFF’s Weekly Wrap, bringing you the week’s farming and political news each Friday.
Regional Digital TechHub announced
This week, Minister for Regional Communications Mark Coulton announced the NFF would be responsible for the role out of the Regional Digital TechHub, a new online resource dedicated to connecting rural Australia with information and relevant resources related to telecommunications.
Farmers make case to competition watchdog on supply chain bad behaviour
The NFF today provided its submission to the ACCC Agricultural Goods Inquiry outlining real life examples of the alarming conduct farmers are all too often subject to, at varying points along the food supply chain.
Action needed to solve agriculture’s labour shortage
With peak harvest season just around the corner, time is ticking for action on Australia's farm sector’s labour shortage. At this time of year, there are usually about 144,000 backpackers in Australia, 30% of which take up roles in horticulture. Currently, there are a reported 70,000 with many more backpackers set to leave in the lead up to Christmas. The NFF and its members have presented to Government a 10 point plan to help solve ag's worker woes.
Industry welcomes investment into new energy
On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled new funding for renewable energy technologies, including $1.62 billion for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The NFF said the package would support on foot initiatives such as the  Bioenergy Roadmap and the development of new technologies to measure soil carbon. The NFF has a goal for 50% of Australia's farm energy sources to come form renewable sources by 2030.
Weekly insight
Australia's FTAs support growth for Australia's agriculture sector
The latest Insights report from ABARES highlights the important role Australia's FTAs play in supporting the growth and competitiveness of Australia’s agriculture sector...
Source: ABARES, 2020
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Supply chain behaviour in question

Today, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) provided its submission to the ACCC Agricultural Goods Inquiry.

The submission outlines real life examples of the alarming conduct farmers are all too often subject to at varying points along the food supply chain.

From the poultry and horticulture industries, the submission outlines the behaviours farmers are confronted with on a regular basis, demonstrated by a number of case studies which were added anonymously so as to avoid any commercial retaliation (something that in itself demonstrates the fragile nature of Australia’s food supply chain system).

Some examples outline in the submission include:

  • Compelling farmers to invest millions in farm infrastructure on the promise of long-term contracts that never eventuate;
  • Vague quality and performance specifications that allows buyers to unilaterally change the price and quantity of agricultural products;
  • Using quality and performance specification to manipulate market prices;
  • Stockpiling semi-perishable products and strategically releasing product into market to depress farmgate prices; and
  • Short notice cancellations of consignments and then immediate reordering at lower prices.

The NFF is calling for significant reform of competition laws, including increasing the breadth and scope of unconscionable conduct provisions, a prescribed set of unfair practices, the broadening of codes of conduct to more agricultural products, and regular market monitoring of food supply chains to inform further regulatory interventions.

Because farmers are in the unique position of being small players who are reliant on monopolies and oligopolies for all their inputs and selling their goods into the market, they deserve regular regulatory oversight when it comes to competition.

While the three-month schedule for the inquiry has raised significant concerns amongst industry members around the breadth and depth of the ACCC investigation, industry remains optimistic about the potential findings.

Should the inquiry not find any evidence of misbehaviour, further questions will be raised over the time frame and full breadth of the ACCC investigation.

Quote of the week
"Our message to the Victorian and Federal governments is the regions can’t wait for Melbourne to catch up. The time to entice growth in the regions and help us recover is now."

Sent by the National Farmers' Federation, NFF House, 14-16 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2600

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