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Level playing fieldFAIR Farms has been developed by industry, for industry, to support all members of the Australian horticulture industry.Fair Farms has burst onto the compliance scene with a training and certification module that works with growers at their pace to upskill on employment laws and regulations, and make compliance available to all.
Amix of time-poor operators who aren’t up with the latest workplace regulations, unregulated labour hire companies and, at the worst end, rogue operators who purposely exploit workers to undercut compliant growers have been the catalysts behind the launch of FairFarms.
Practices by these businesses, whether intentional or not, artificially discount the cost of produce with which compliant business must compete. Of course, if these issues are then exposed to the public, the industry as a whole is then hit by negative media coverage. Plus, of course, there is the financial burden of those that can’t compete.
While most growers and other produce suppliers intend to do the right thing, it can be challenging to navigate and keep up with complex employment laws and regulations. This is where Fair Farms comes into the picture. Fair Farms has been developed by industry, for industry, to support all members of the Australian horticulture supply chain with tools, information and training to implement employment practices that comply with labour laws and ethical standards.
“ [Fair Farms] works across education, information and training, which ultimately leads to empowerment for those individuals behind their compliant business. ”The Fair Farms program includes an industry owned and developed Standard benchmarked against Australian workplace laws and global ethical standards. This Standard is presented in the same way as Freshcare, so will be familiar to most growers. It's reached through a process of self-guided online steps, beginning with an online self-assessment against the Standard that helps identify any training needs of the individual, their business and their practices.
Following the assessment outcomes, a coordinated system of individualised (online, face-toface or phone) quality training modules is recommended to an individual. These have been developed to support growers and other suppliers and provide a pathway to certification, if required, including costeffective third-party audits.
These third-party audits and the subsequent certification enable ethical businesses to differentiate themselves from operators who perhaps haven’t aligned their business to ethical standards. The aim of these certifications is to cement a trust between growers, suppliers and consumers that their produce is grown and sourced in an ethical manner. So, accrediting your business with Fair Farms certification is beneficial in a number of ways.
THE Dicky Bill Australia team operate on 500 acres west of Bundaberg and are another credited grower from Queensland.
FAIR Farms Grower Engagement Officer Donna Mogg talked with growers at the Carnarvon Growers Association Field Day this month during a WA visit.
Firstly, it sets the grower and the supplier apart as an ethical employer, providing a more enticing workplace for farm workers and labour hire providers alike and providing a stabilising influence on the labour flow.
Fair Farms certification has also been accepted by most retailers in Australia, including Woolworths, Aldi, Metcash (ie. IGA) and Coles. This means that Australian growers can now opt for the one program and adopt the one Standard that meets the ethical sourcing requirements of all four retailers, making compliance easier, cheaper and more effective.
It also demonstrates to the Fair Work Ombudsman and consumers, that you are committed to complying with employment and work, health and safety laws and ethical standards. Through Fair Farms you can demonstrate your commitment to fair and responsible employment practices.
How it worksFair Farms is open to all horticulture businesses in Australia.
This includes farming and packing enterprises, nurseries, wholesalers, ripening houses, food brokers and any other organisation in the horticulture supply chain. If you are a grower or a supplier, you will be taken through different pathways on your way to accreditation. To ensure everyone can access highquality training at an accessible price, we have designed training to be accessed through online e-learning, phone consults and face-to-face training sessions. Participants can choose what type of training meets their learning styles, needs and budget. The first step to accreditation starts with a visit to fairfarms.com.au. We’ll guide you the rest of the way.
Fair Farms webinarsIf you want a taste of what Fair Farms can offer, our free monthly webinars are the perfect sampler. On the final Wednesday of each month, our team delivers a 30-minute online webinar, discussing far-ranging issues relevant to anyone and everyone in the horticultural supply chain. The free webinars have encompassed topics, such as modern slavery, mental health and ethical and social compliance. To find out details on any upcoming webinars and how to register, head to the Fair Farms website or to our Facebook page.
Donna MoggGrower Engagement Officer With more than 20 years helping farmers with their Workplace Relations needs, Donna Mogg is the Grower Engagement Officer with Fair Farms. She is committed to the new training and compliance programs that come with Fair Farms and how it works with growers onfarm to provide development that will not only improve individual businesses, but also the industry as a whole. She explains the program is delivered by Growcom, which is Queensland-based, but is a national program funded by the Australian Department of Agriculture. It has been a response to The Harvest Trail Report (2017) put out by the Fair Work Ombudsman, and works across education, information and training, which ultimately leads to empowerment for those individuals behind their compliant business. Donna acknowledges many businesses find compliance programs costly due to time and fees, but Fair Farms manages that with an online assessment (2hrs, not visible to retailers), which is then backed up with tailored training to bring a business up to compliance. Businesses can be certified for up to three years, making compliance cost-effective. Training can be online or face-to-face, with one-on-one and phone consults available. Fair Farms is working behind the scenes to make compliance even easier and most cost-effective for the industry, so stay tuned.TASTE ‘n’ See Strawberries from Queensland are another accredited grower.
Over time, the transparency over who is compliant generated through Fair Farms will help upskill and drive out rogue practices from our industry.
Looking to the future, Fair Farms will provide training, tools and resources to ensure West Australian businesses can achieve a compliant certification in a cost-effective and convenient selfpaced way, provide transparency around compliance and, ultimately, create a level playing field in the industry.