Australia’s revised Horticulture Code of Conduct (Hort Code) kicks in on Saturday 1 April, with changes to record keeping and penalties for non-compliance.
While the dispute resolution procedure is staying the same, and growers and traders still need a written horticulture produce agreement, the new Hort Code introduces financial penalties for non-compliance.
Agreements made before 15 December 2006 are no longer exempt from the Hort Code, and some written records must be kept for at least six years.
The industry will have 12 months to adjust existing horticulture produce agreements to comply with the new code, but there is no transition period for acting in good faith, for dispute resolution and for record keeping.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned that unless horticulture producers, agents and merchants comply with these sections from tomorrow, they may be found in breach of the code.
Growcom chief advocate Rachel Mackenzie has welcomed the new Hort Code, and said the inclusion of penalties means "it has some actual teeth".
“The purpose of the Code is to improve transparency, not obstruct normal healthy business relationships, and for that reason additional flexibility has been added to the Code to reflect what happens on the market floor,” she said.