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Dairy farmers to 'workshop' collective bargaining.



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AFFA03/078WT - 9 April 2003

Dairy farmers to 'workshop' collective bargaining

Australia's dairy farmers will benefit from a series of workshops to help them understand and apply the decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to allow collective bargaining, Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss announced today.

"The Federal Government is providing up to $100,000 for these workshops because we believe dairy farmers should have every opportunity to get a better deal from processors," Mr Truss said.

"Many current supply agreements are due to expire in June 2003, so the workshops, which will begin this month, will be timely. Before commencing negotiations on new contracts and supply agreements, farmers will be able to learn about forming collective bargaining groups."

Mr Truss said he believed the decision allowing dairy farmers to form collective bargaining groups could help redress some of the imbalance in market power in the dairy industry.

"There is potential for dairy farmers around Australia to benefit from collective bargaining, and I encourage as many dairy farmers as possible to attend the workshops," he said.

"Collective bargaining can empower farmers to negotiate, not only on prices, but also on other conditions related to supply contracts. This knowledge can add to the array of tools that they need to use to manage business risks.

"The Federal Government is committed to increasing the skills of dairy farmers, while strengthening communities and regional areas through training initiatives such as those announced today."

The collective bargaining workshops will be held in regional locations in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania from 22 April to 7 May 2003.

A team of State and national dairy industry representatives, an ACCC representative and a consultant specialising in dairy pricing and marketing will run the workshops with farmers, using specific local and regional knowledge. The Australian Dairy Farmers Ltd has welcomed the support of Federal Government in holding these series of workshops.

"These workshops demonstrate the Federal Government's continuing support and assistance to Australian dairy farmers and the communities that underpin this important rural industry," Mr Truss said.

Further information on times and venues will be advertised shortly as well as through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry -

Australia's web site, www.affa.gov.au, or by phoning John McQueen at Australian Dairy Farmers on (03) 9642 8066.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Annette Healy- 02 6277 7520 or 0408 627 227