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Ombudsman reminds dairy farmers of their rights under code

Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores
28 January 2021 1 minute readShare
Kate Carnell

Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell has reminded dairy farmers who may be too daunted by handling disputes with larger suppliers about their rights under the Dairy Code of Conduct when trying to reach a fair agreement.

The Dairy Code of Conduct applies to all milk supply agreements entered into, or amended, on or after 1 January 2020.

The call follows comments last year from Ms Carnell that two-thirds of SME disputes are resolved outside of the courts.


Ms Carnell said it can be very daunting when a small or family business finds themselves in dispute with a large business — especially when they rely on that business relationship for their income.

“We are here to help. The first step when a small or family business comes to our office is to talk about their situation. We can provide guidance on how to resolve disputes, even in the early stages,” she said.


“Rest assured that my office will not contact the other party involved, unless the dispute resolution process is formally entered into.”

Ms Carnell pointed out at, under the Dairy Code, it is mandatory for processors and farmers to deal with each other in good faith.

She said milk supply agreements are required to have an internal complaints handling procedure and a mediation process. In addition, a milk supply agreement may also have an arbitration option.

“We understand how important the farmer-processor relationship is and we work hard to assist with the dispute, while also respecting the business relationship,” Ms Carnell said.



“I want to remind dairy farmers in dispute that they don’t have to go it alone. Please reach out for help by calling my office.

“In addition to the Dairy Code, my office can provide broader assistance to small and family businesses that need help with general business disputes, including issues with banks or the ATO.”

Ombudsman reminds dairy farmers of their rights under code
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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of MyBusiness. Before that, he was the deputy editor for SMSF Adviser as well as features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at [email protected].

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