Australia’s competition watchdog is taking French-owned Lactalis Australia — which in WA processes Harvey Fresh-branded milk — to court over alleged breaches to the Dairy Code. Introduced in early 2020, the code requires most dairy processors to publish on their websites by June 1 each year standard form milk supply agreements to cover all circumstances for which they intend to purchase milk in the coming financial year. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission alleges Lactalis breached a number of provisions of the code, and, in doing so, weakened the bargaining power of the farmers that supplied its milk. Lactalis is one of Australia’s biggest dairy processors, purchasing milk from more than 400 farmers across Australian. The company produces a wide range of dairy products, including Pauls, Oak, Vaalia and Ice Break. The ACCC allegations include that Lactalis failed to make its milk supply agreements publicly available on its website by the deadline. Instead, it required farmers to sign up to a mailing list to receive a copy of the agreements. The watchdog said this had the effect of reducing the transparency of the terms and conditions in Lactalis’ milk supply agreements during a critical and limited timeframe in which farmers had to weigh their supply options. Lactalis Australia said it regrets the matter had escalated to the Federal Court. “Lactalis believes that we fully complied with the code, which is currently subject to its own review by the ACCC and industry to address widespread implementation concerns,” it said. “The issues raised by the ACCC regarding Lactalis Australia are technical, legal issues that did not adversely impact our farmers in any way. In any event, we have made all required changes to address those technicalities.” Earlier this month, the ACCC announced it had fined WA processor Brownes $22,000 for breaches of the code. Deputy chair Mick Keogh said he believed it was a case of Brownes not doing its homework and correct checks rather than deliberately planning to disadvantage farmers. Saputo and Union Dairy Company are other Australia processors to receive infringements. Ian Noakes, dairy section president of WAFarmers, said the code was developed because of the unfair treatment of farmers by processors and he was pleased to see action was being taken to ensure processors abided by the code.