The VFF Livestock Group has expressed its outrage at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s findings into the Barnawartha Saleyards alleged boycott on February 17.
The ACCC said it would take no further action against the nine processors who displayed non-competitive co-ordinated conduct.
However, VFF Livestock Group president Ian Feldtmann said the result was disappointing and that farmer groups would seek further action from the ACCC.
‘‘The Barnawartha incident was the catalyst and showed us that there was no level playing field in the Victorian livestock markets,’’ Mr Feldtmann said.
‘‘It’s baffling that all nine processors chose not to compete at the saleyards in February, yet the ACCC was unable to obtain sufficient evidence to make a case for prosecution.’’
The investigation commenced following reports that meat processors had agreed not to attend the sale in response to the saleyard using pre-weigh selling.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said there was a fine line between social discussions about industry issues on the one hand, and exchanging information.
Following the incident, the VFF and NSW Farmers called for a Senate inquiry into the red meat processing sector.
Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie said the announcement by the ACCC ’was ‘‘highly disappointing’’.
‘‘The sale is boycotted by all usual attendees and farmers are left in a terrible position,’’ Senator McKenzie said.
‘‘The farmers know this, the stock agents know this and the community knows this.’’
While the evidence obtained confirmed that a number of processors had legitimate reasons for their non-attendance, the ACCC said it also confirmed that representatives of some of the competing nine processors had communicated to each other on a regular basis.