AN INQUIRY into the domestic fresh food and dairy supply chain has been announced, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission set to give particular focus to the treatment of farmers by major retailers.

Agriculture minister David Littleproud said the government had secured a three-month ACCC independent inquiry into the supply chain of fresh foods such as meat, eggs, seafood, fruit and vegetables.

Mr Littleproud said it was significant that the inquiry would examine whether the new Dairy Code should also be extended across the entire domestic supply chain to include retailers.

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“Australian farmers take considerable risks and work incredibly hard to grow the fresh and affordable food we all take for granted.

“But there are concerns that once farm produce is harvested or processed and sent off to market, producers have little bargaining power and are at the mercy of the powerful supermarkets when it comes to the price they are paid,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Unfortunately, not all interactions between farmers and the major supermarkets are conducted fairly and in good faith and there are bargaining imbalances and other serious issues that need to be looked at.

Mr Littleproud said he would encourage farmers and other businesses across the supply chain to take this opportunity and contribute to the inquiry.

“Importantly, the ACCC has guaranteed that the Inquiry will accept confidential submissions,” he said.

“This inquiry is not designed to regulate food prices. Instead, it will identify problems and recommend policy options – including a possible all-encompassing Agricultural Code – if appropriate.”

The ACCC is to start its Inquiry on Monday and is to report to the government by 30 November.

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