​Media release

Strengthening the future of Australian horticulture

13 February 2017

  • The Australian Government has announced its response to the review of the Horticulture Code of Conduct.
  • Improvements will be made to better support Australian traders and growers to comply with the Code and ensure a productive and fair trading relationship.
  • The revised Code will remove unnecessary regulation and allow the ACCC to better identify and rapidly respond to breaches.

The Australian Government has today announced its response to the independent review of the Horticulture Code of Conduct, which will see a range of improvements put in place to address key concerns and ensure the ongoing sustainability and productivity of Australian horticulture. 

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston, said it was important that the Code supported constructive and fair business between horticulture growers and traders. 

“Australia’s horticulture industry is one of our most valuable and important industries. It is our third largest agriculture industry, contributes $9.13 billion to the economy and employs around 57,000 people across the country,” Minister Ruston said. 

“The Horticulture Code of Conduct is important for the industry, because it provides a framework for the transactions between growers and traders to occur in a mutually beneficial and fair manner.  

“We understand the concerns that have been raised regarding the overall effectiveness of the Code, especially the number of transactions occurring outside its coverage. 

“It is important that the Code helps our growers receive fair and timely returns for their valuable produce, but we also need to ensure it does not restrict the trade of horticulture products.  

“That is why we commissioned the independent review to identify ways to address the concerns that have been raised and to improve the Code for the benefit of Australian horticulture. 

“The Australian Government has carefully considered the recommendations from the review to identify those that will effectively address those concerns, and our response will help ensure the Code can adequately support the industry into the future.”

The Australian Government has accepted nine recommendations from the review of the Horticulture Code of Conduct. The government’s response to the recommendations will: 

  • provide better guidance to make it easier for traders and growers to comply with the Code
  • ensure that growers and traders have a fair, binding horticulture produce agreement in place to support a more productive and fair trading relationship
  • allow the ACCC to better identify and rapidly respond to breaches to further support compliance with the Code 
  • remove unnecessary regulation where appropriate and allow growers and traders greater flexibility in the trading relationship.

“Our response demonstrates an appropriate balance between the need for transparency in the trading relationship and the need for the code to ensure that trade is not tied up in red tape,” Minister Ruston said. 

“This is another example of the Australian government delivering on real, tangible improvements for Australian horticulture and I look forward to seeing the benefits of the revised code flow onto our producers and farmers across the nation.” 

The government’s full response can be found online at www.agriculture.gov.au/horticulturecode​

The draft Horticulture Code of Conduct will be released in due course and made available on the department’s website.

Fast facts
  • The Horticulture Code is a mandatory industry code under section 51AE of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and is enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 
  • The code exists to provide clarity and transparency of transactions between growers and wholesalers of fresh fruit and vegetables. 
  • The independent review of the Horticulture Code of Conduct was commissioned by the Australian Government and undertaken by Mr Mark Napper and Mr Alan Wein. 
  • Industry, traders, growers and the ACCC were involved in consultations as part of the review. 
  • The review made a range of findings that informed various recommendations provided to the government for consideration.