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The agricultural industry and farmer groups don’t believe the proposed voluntary Food and Grocery Code of Conduct will be enough to protect their interests against the might of the supermarket duopoly.

Instead, farmers are pushing for a mandatory code of conduct to regulate their dealings with supermarkets. The Federal Government is currently seeking comments on the proposed voluntary code, which is based on one drafted by Coles, Woolworths and the Australian Food and Grocery Council. Only supermarkets that ‘opt-in’ would be bound by the code, which would be prescribed under the Competition and Consumer Act.

Importantly, the government says this would mean the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) could take enforcement action against parties not adhering to the code.

The National Farmers Federation has said it is willing to look at the draft code, but its policy favours a mandatory code.

“That’s our policy position at the moment and until that changes after consultation with our members we will maintain that policy position,” General manager of policy Tony Mahar said.