Help for farmers to get best price amid ‘dirty’ tactics

Fraser Barton |

Queensland farmers will be offered training to help them get the best deal for their produce.
Queensland farmers will be offered training to help them get the best deal for their produce.

Queensland farmers will be taught the art of negotiating with supermarket behemoths amid claims retail buyers use “downright dirty” tactics.

The state government has announced it will upskill farmers, offering practical workshops to help them thrash out better deals with Australia’s supermarket giants.

The news comes after an ongoing Senate inquiry into supermarket prices was told retail supremos were paying primary producers well below market value for goods.

Woolworths and Coles Supermarket signage
Farmers say Woolworths and Coles use their power to pay well below market value for their produce. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers claimed producers were operating on an unfair playing field when dealing with major supermarkets, saying they were not trained in negotiation.

“The tactics retail buyers use to negotiate, although not illegal, are downright dirty,” CEO Rachel Chambers told AAP.

“Yet corporate Stockholm Syndrome-like behaviour due to the power differential and a fear of commercial retribution stops the growers from acting on this.”

She said local produce held more value than what was currently being paid but because growers were selling a highly perishable product, any return was sometimes considered better than none.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said an industry-led farm gate price monitoring scheme would be trialled across the top 20 products from farmers and growers.

The financial performance, weekly wholesale price and retail price data of farmers would be monitored to give them information and skills to effectively negotiate better deals with Australia’s supermarket giants.

Mr Miles said workshops for farmers would be held in each major growing region and a production cost best practice model would be established for growers to better understand profitability and risk.

Farmers say fair trading terms need to improve to ensure the viability of the agricultural sector. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

“When I met with the Queensland Farmers’ Federation and fruit and vegetable growers they told me farm gate pricing needed to be more transparent,” Mr Miles told parliament on Tuesday.

“My government will work with growers to capture, analyse and monitor wholesale and retail pricing across fresh food products, and we’ll develop a best practice production cost model for Queensland farmers.

“It’s about equipping farmers with the information and training to get the best deal for themselves, their families and their farms.”

The Farmers Federation said it was essential governments worked with growers.

“Market transparency and fair trading terms need to be improved to ensure the future viability of farmers and everyday Australians’ ability to access and afford Australian food,” CEO Jo Sheppard said.

“We must work to support a sustainable future for food and fibre production for the benefit of future generations.”

The deadline for submissions to the state government’s supermarket pricing inquiry has been extended to Friday.