Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative Limited (DFMC) has since apologised to its 160 farmer suppliers for failing to comply with its publishing obligations under the Dairy Code.
The Dairy Code requires most companies that buy milk from farmers to publish standard from milk supply agreements on their websites by 2pm on 1 June each year. 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 Australian Competitions and Consumer Commission (ACCC) charged that Dairy Farmers did not publish milk supply agreements for the 2021-22 dairy season on its website by the publication deadline. DFMC has since published all of its milk supply agreements on its website.
"The Dairy Code imposes certain obligations on all companies that buy from farmers," ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.
"While DFMC doesn't process milk, it was buying milk from member farmers to supply a processor, and so has the same legal obligations under the code."
"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," Keogh said. "The code was introduced to improve price transparency in the dairy industry, so it is essential that processors and co-ops make their milk supply agreements publicly available by the 2.00pm deadline on 1 June."
DFMC says it has worked openly and constructively with ACCC staff to address the issues raised in the infringement notice.
"Witha small management team, DFMC manages more than 20 different farmgate milk supply agreements and is now undertaking a review of all processes and timelines associated with the requirements of the code, with a view to making the necessary changes to ensure compliance in 2022."