Well known rural academic and industry representative Mick Keogh has been named as first agriculture commissioner to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The position was created by the Federal Government through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper process last year in response to farmer 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,” Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce said in announcing the appointment today.
“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.”
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. Mr Keogh was awarded an Order of Australia Medal last year for his years of the service to Australian agriculture.
“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 has been appointed to the position for five years.
“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,” federal treasurer Scott Morrison said.
“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.”
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims welcomed Mr Keogh’s appointment, and said competition and consumer issues in the agriculture sector were a priority area for the ACCC.
“Mick Keogh has a long history of involvement with the agriculture sector and his experience will be invaluable to the ACCC when making decisions on agriculture matters,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC has established an Agriculture Enforcement and Engagement Unit that contains additional staff to conduct investigations and engagement in rural and regional areas with funding provided through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
“Mr Keogh will play a key role in the work of the ACCC’s Agriculture Enforcement and Engagement Unit, which has been working to identify competition and fair trading issues in agriculture markets and engaging with a range of key industry groups,” Mr Sims said.
“I and my fellow Commissioners look forward to working closely with Mick on these and other issues.”
Mr Joyce said that 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.
Source: Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources/ACCC. Visit www.accc.gov.au/agriculture for the ACCC’s resources for the agriculture sector. To find out more about the Agriculture White Paper and its key measures, visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.