Growers and traders can contact Ombudsman to settle ongoing disputes

AUSVEG, the peak industry body for the Australian vegetable industry, has welcomed the establishment of a dispute resolution process under the Horticulture Code of Conduct.

The process, established by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) and AUSVEG is encouraging growers and traders in the fruit and vegetable industry to contact the office of the ASBFEO relating to any disputes that fall under the Horticulture Code.

The ASBFEO has also appointed a list of Horticulture Produce Assessors at the major market locations around Australia meaning growers and traders will have access to an independent assessor to inspect the produce under their signed Horticulture Produce Agreement (HPA).

AUSVEG has been a strong and vocal supporter of the Code and has reinforced its message to industry that it must have written HPAs in place that comply with the Horticulture Code.

The Horticulture Code of Conduct is a mandatory industry code prescribed under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

It came into full effect on 1 April 2018. It prohibits growers and wholesalers from trading produce without a written agreement that complies with the Code.

AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside says that it is critical that growers and traders know their rights and obligations under the Horticulture Code of Conduct.

“A publicly available list of Horticulture Produce Assessors should give confidence to growers that the Horticulture Code can be enforced and there are options available to them when there are disputes with traders,” Mr Whiteside said.

“The Horticulture Code was introduced to improve clarity and transparency of trading arrangements between growers and traders in the horticulture sector.”

“As an industry, we stand by the Code and what it represents and support that all parties must abide by the law, which at the end of the day will best protect the industry’s many growing businesses.”

Since the office of the ASBFEO opened four years ago, it has provided assistance to over 20,000 small businesses nation-wide.

Two-out-of-three of those disputes were successfully resolved at mediation or prior to that through contact with our assistance team.

Small businesses that need information about the Horticulture Code or help with resolving a dispute that falls under the Code can visit the ASBFEO website or call the hotline 1300 650 460.

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