SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — The Grain Producers of Australia (GPA) said it welcomes the appointment of the Australian Competition Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) new agriculture consultative committee.

“The committee will provide a forum for the discussion of competition and fair trading concerns related to the agriculture sector,” said Mick Keogh, ACCC commissioner.

The new committee will be chaired by Keogh.

“We sought nominations and considered a large number of applications,” Keogh said. “Members were selected from a range of backgrounds and industries within the sector including peak bodies, industry associations, and industry advisors.”

GPA chairman Andrew Weidemann said his organization had advocated strongly for greater recognition of agricultural issues within Australia’s competition law framework and the need for specific industry expertise inside the ACCC as the regulator.

“Grain farms range in size and while many today are multimillion-dollar operations, individually they are relatively small when compared with the businesses they deal with in other parts of the supply chain,” Weidemann said. “Being faced with monopoly, or near-monopoly, suppliers of services in some cases can present major challenges and while having the ACCC to manage these situations is correct under our system of competition law, we have been extremely concerned that the organization should have maximum capability to grasp the nature of the issues brought forward.”

“Appointment of the agriculture commissioner and now the agriculture consultative committee will provide much greater resource when examining issues such as the recent Brookfield-Asciano rail case,” Weidemann said.
Members of the committee are expected to provide input at meetings on:

-Issues and processes affecting the agriculture sector that fall within the scope of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010;
-Emerging issues or market developments of concern to the agriculture sector; and
-Improving communication with the agriculture sector.

NSW grain grower Dan Cooper has been appointed to the agriculture consultative committee after being nominated by GPA. Cooper is chairman of the NSW Farmers Grains Committee and represents NSW on the GPA grains policy council.

“Dan is one of the small number of farmers from across Australia and across different agricultural industries who have been appointed to the ACCC committee,” Weidemann said.
“He will bring his personal experience of agricultural production systems to the table, along with his broader experience of grain supply chains and marketing. Through his involvement with industry policy at the state and national level Dan is well known to many people across business, government and political sectors.”
“He has worked on various competition issues for the grain industry, including the proposed acquisition of GrainCorp by U.S. agribusiness Archer Daniels Midland in 2013, and subsequently the development of the Bulk Wheat Port Access Code of Conduct,” he said. “He is currently involved with other aspects of the grain supply chain through both Grain Trade Australia and research work with the Grains Research and Development Corporation.”