Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources the Hon. Barnaby Joyce and Treasurer the Hon. Scott Morrison today announced the appointment of Mr Mick Keogh OAM as the Agriculture Commissioner to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for five years.
"In Mick Keogh our farmers now have an individual representing their interests with in-depth knowledge of the agricultural sector and a clear understanding of the competition, market power and legal issues impacting their industry," Minister Joyce said.
"Mr Keogh brings to the ACCC 30 years' experience in agribusiness as a cattle farmer, academic and industry representative, with the added insights from his concurrent role as Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute.
"We delivered this measure in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper in response to farmers' concerns about supply chain transparency.
"It will go a long way to reducing farmers' vulnerability to the market power that can be wielded by large processors or retail chains.
"Mr Keogh will, with other Commissioners, work closely with the ACCC’s newly established Agriculture Enforcement and Engagement Unit, to gather intelligence on the ground and see the market up close.
"The dedicated new unit will help the ACCC to better understand and address the market issues in the agricultural sector.
"The Unit has begun to assess and investigate a number of complaints about possible breaches of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 in agricultural markets and analysed information, including compliance data to identify key market issues for further examination."
Treasurer Scott Morrison said the unit would continue working with stakeholders through a programme of regional workshops and through a new committee, the Agriculture Consultative Committee, to ensure the ACCC receives information from those involved in agricultural markets.
"The Turnbull Government is committed to fostering a vibrant and competitive agriculture industry to ensure that Australian agribusinesses are well placed to seize opportunities both at home and in emerging global markets," Mr Morrison said.
"This appointment of a dedicated Agriculture Commissioner will enable the ACCC to closely engage with farmers, communities and representative groups in regional and rural areas to identify elusive competition issues and unfair trading practices along the supply chain.
"This will help improve compliance with and enforcement of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 within the agriculture sector and enable the ACCC to take appropriate action earlier."
Since its launch last July, the $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is progressing well and already delivering tangible benefits to Australia's farm businesses, including:
- Five new agricultural counsellors working on the ground in the key markets of Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Saudi Arabia,
- A doubling of the Rural R&D for Profit programme investment to $200 million, and an extension of the programme to 2021-22,
- Continuing progress on a $3.3 million Bureau of Meteorology project to provide better seasonal forecasts.
To find out more about the Agriculture White Paper and its key measures, visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.