A label designed by Queensland dairy farmers to help consumers identify if farmers were paid a fair price for their milk has been scrapped after a legal challenge from processors.
Australian Dairy Products Federation appealed the ACCC’s approval of the logo
It argued that the logo would have unfairly cast products without the branding in a negative light
QDO president Brian Tessman says the legal costs to defend the logo are too high
The Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation’s (QDO) “Fair Go” logo, which was set to be launched this year, was designed in conjunctions with the state government to help consumers identify dairy processors and brands paying farmers a sustainable price for milk produced in Queensland.
It was approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in March, but the Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF), which represents the country’s major milk processors, then lodged an appeal with the Australian Competition Tribunal.
QDO president Brian Tessman said the group could not afford to defend the appeal, and so made the disappointing decision to withdraw the logo.
“We jumped through so many hoops in lots of places, we’d set the launch date and it was almost there,” he said.
“It basically means that no matter what you do, unless you’ve got a huge pile of money behind you, then really you can’t put it up.”
In a submission to the tribunal, the Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF) raised several concerns with the logo, including:
- The quality of data and accounting methodology underpinning the scheme
- The qualifying criteria of 80 per cent of the milk used to make any product — noting Queensland produces less than four per cent of Australia’s raw milk and sourcing milk from outside of Queensland is needed to satisfy consumer demand
- The high risk of the consumer being misled by the representation that only products which carry the Fair Go Dairy logo have been part of a “fair trade” value chain and all other products, despite the origin of manufacture, are part of a value chain that treats the dairy farmer “unfairly”
The QDO hoped to challenge the ADPF’s decision but told its members the legal costs were too high.
“The cost even to mount a minimal defence was going to be completely prohibitive for a small organisation like the QDO,” Mr Tessman said.
“We were doing it as a service to the industry, not to make money out of it at all, so we cannot justify outlaying that money, which is really disappointing.
In a statement, the ADPF said it was “the right outcome for the dairy industry and consumers”.
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