In the hope to address the power imbalance between dairy farmers and processors, the first of 14 nationwide meetings on the proposed mandatory Code of Conduct was held in Devonport, Tas.
Dairy farmers, processors and representatives discussed a range of issues including dispute resolution processes, contract requirements and transition periods.
Tasmania Farmer and Graziers Association (TFGA) Dairy Council’s Andrew Lester said the TFGA wanted to see a regulatory impact statement “so we can actually assess the costs and impacts on farmers at farmgate, and that hasn’t been done as yet".
"Until that has been done and there has been more consultation around the industry we can’t make a clear determination,” he said.
“We need to realise that a mandatory code will come with some costs and the industry-developed voluntary code may be able to deliver those same benefits.
“The costs of record keeping, administration, disputes and all those sorts of costs will be bared back to the farmer or the processor.”
Mr Lester said after speaking with multiple farmers, there was a lot of different views.
“Different people supply different companies, so it’s difficult to understand everyone's point of view all the time, but it’s good to hear from different people,” he said.
“It’s clear that some people do think the code of conduct will fix the milk price and that’s clearly not the case. It’s about fairness between processors and farmers. It won’t actually do anything for milk price, so it’s important people understand that.”
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Richard Colbeck said there was great discussion happening at the meeting.
"We are looking to understand from growers how they see this process, one of the things that goes back a long while in my mind… is how do you balance the perception of imbalance of power between growers and processors,” he said.
“This process is about sitting down with the dairy farmers and letting them have their say, as a part of a development of the code.”