Small business ombudsman welcomes new dairy contracts code

AUSTRALIAN Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell has welcomed the new Dairy Industry Code of Practice for Contractual Arrangements between farmers and processors.

Ombudsman Carnell had input to the code and said she would monitor its effectiveness over the next 12 months.

Ms Carnell said the voluntary code addressed issues that may be contested under the Unfair Contract Terms law for Small Business, which began operating on November 12, 2016.

“I’m very pleased that all the major processors and farmer organisations have signed the code,” Ms Carnell said. “Many farmers were crippled last year by retrospective price reductions, which are no longer allowed. 

“There is now a requirement for notification and transparency, which will help farmers to make informed decisions.”

Ms Carnell welcomed the recognition by processors that downward price movements were undesirable.

The code, which is voluntary, now requires 30 days notice of step-downs, which must be clearly set out in the contract. Farmers are also required to give 30 days notice of changing processors, with a cooling-off period of 21 days.

“A farmer is entitled to all accrued loyalty payments if they have supplied to the end of their contract term,” Ms Carnell said. “This addresses a previous unfair situation.

“The voluntary code is a positive step and I hope it works. A negotiated voluntary agreement is better than seeking to introduce more regulation.

“I will review the effectiveness of the voluntary code to make sure it’s working as intended.”


Just 1% of Aust. farm businesses foreign owned says ABS

MORE THAN 99 percent of Australian farm businesses are fully Australian owned and 88 percent of farmland is fully Australian owned, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey (ALWOS).

“The 2016 survey found that the proportion of Australian to foreign owned farming businesses has not changed significantly in the three years since the survey was last run,” ABS program manager for the Environment and Agriculture Statistics Branch, Lisa Wardlaw-Kelly said

The survey also found the majority of agriculture water entitlements in 2016 were Australian owned (87 percent).

“The 2016 survey confirmed that large businesses continue to account for the majority of foreign owned farm land with fewer than 50 businesses accounting for nearly 95 percent of the total area of foreign owned farm land in Australia,” Ms Wardlaw-Kelly said. 

The 2015-16 ALWOS was conducted to inform debate about foreign ownership of agricultural land and water entitlements. However, with the establishment of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land and Register of Foreign Ownership of Australian Water Entitlements, the ABS is reviewing the need for the continuation of its survey. 

Results from the 2016 ALWOS were consistent with the first report from the ATO’s Register of Foreign Owned Agricultural Land, released in September 2016, which put the proportion of agricultural land with a level of foreign interest at a slightly higher 13.6 percent. 

“This difference is not unexpected and is due to the slightly broader scope of the register, which includes all foreign interest in agricultural land and water when ALWOS focuses on direct foreign investment in the business that owns the asset,” Ms Wardlaw-Kelly said. 

She said supplementary information was available from both the ABS and ATO websites to assist Australia’s agribusiness sector to interpret the two datasets.

Agricultural Land and Water Ownership, June 2016 is available for free download from the ABS website.


Agriculture biggest tick for national GDP growth

AGRICULTURE  has become the largest contributor to Australian GDP growth in 2016-17, contributing more than a quarter of the nation’s total 1.9 percent expansion.

Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics (ABARES)  figures released in August show the agricultural sector also grew the fastest of all 19 industries in 2016-17 — up a creditable 23 percent to realise 0.5 percent growth for the 2016-17 financial year.

Livestock and cropping industries were the major contributors, but other billion dollar agriculture industries also significant, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce. 

Mr Joyce said the agriculture sector grew the fastest of all 19 industries in 2016-17, particularly driven by the grains and livestock industries, but with other agricultural industries also performing strongly.  

“Australian agriculture contributed 0.5 percentage points of the nation’s total 1.9 percent growth over the course of the year, an outstanding contribution given the size of the sector compared to total national GDP,” Mr Joyce said

Agriculture contributed more than $50 billion in exports in 2016-17, just under 14 percent of Australia’sr total goods and services exports. This is up from $41 billion five years ago.

“While grains and livestock products each contributed around $10 billion each to this export performance, other agricultural industries are also billion dollar performers,” Mr Joyce said.

“For example, in 2016-17 our pulses exports to the world were worth over $3 billion, wine exports $2.4 billion, nuts exports $822 million and citrus over $330 million.

“Australia has seen great growth in produce to markets such as India. India is going nuts for Australia’s nuts with value of almond exports up over 50 percent for the first half of 2017. Chickpea exports to India increased by almost 90 per cent in 2016-17 to a record value of $1.1 billion.”

Mr Joyce said strong growth had seen China overtake the US as Australia’s most valuable market for wine, for the first time. Wine exports to China totalled $596 million in 2016–17, a 43 percent increase on the previous year. 

“The Coalition Government has delivered strong agriculture policies, including opening up market access for Australian producers to some of the nation’s most important export markets, including free trade deals with China, Japan and Korea,” Mr Joyce said.

“Through the Coalition’s $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper we have been working to create a better business environment for farmers, and to build the infrastructure needed to support continued growth — through a whole raft of policies, which our agriculture sector is responding to with enthusiasm. 

“These policies and investments have provided a solid foundation for growth, and it is great to see how effectively Aussie farmers are capitalising on the opportunities on offer to increase production and exports.

“The Coalition Government has a real vision for Australia’s agriculture sector and from day one we have delivered practical policies and genuine investment to turn the show around and transform agriculture in this nation

“I hate to think what the state of agriculture and the support for our farmers would be under Labor, I don’t even think they have an agriculture policy—have nothing to say on the subject.”


  • Gross value of farm production is estimated by ABARES to have reached a record $62.8 billion in 2016-17.
  • The value of farm exports alone is estimated by ABARES to have reached a record $48 billion in 2016-17, plus fisheries exports of around $1.4 billion and forestry product exports of more than $3 billion. 
  • Total value of Australian nut exports was $822 million in 2016-17, with India the largest market for Australian nuts at a value of $143 million.


Australian cotton - 'Three good reasons for optimism'

AUSTRALIAN cotton producers seem confident of another good year ahead in international markets, with Rabobank research supporting that optimism.

With the Australian cotton harvest completed, growers were greeted with the prediction by Rabobank that domestic prices would remain strong – above $520 a bale –  through 2017/18. 

Continue reading

Australian wineries uncork Chinese market boom

FINDING new routes to market that cut out the ‘middle man’ are emerging as the latest trend in the rise and rise of Australian wine sales in China.

China last year overtook the United States to become the biggest buyer of Australian wine, following a 40 percent growth in sales for 2016. Exports of wine to mainland China rose from A$370 million in 2015 to $520 million in 2016. 

Continue reading

Govt’s Fair Farms plan seeks ‘fair go’ for workers, growers

THE Federal Government has steered its Fair Farms initiative through stakeholders in the horticulture industry in a bid to restore consumer and public confidence in the sector as an ethical employer.

Fair Farms aims to offer growers in the horticulture sector “the tools they need to ensure workers are treated fairly” according to Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston. The industry has been hit by media exposure of unfair work practices, especially in relation to international students working in the sector on temporary working holiday visas. 

Continue reading

Honey Gold-plated success in NT for Pinata

EXCLUSIVE Honey Gold mango producer, Piñata Farms, will continue to expand plantings in the Northern Territory – now a major growing region – following a successful 2016-2017 mango season.

Piñata Farms  managing director Gavin Scurr said the volume produced over summer was consistent with previous years, despite being three weeks shorter. 

Continue reading

Contact Us


PO Box 2144