The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed a move by Coles to adopt the Fair Farms program into its ethical sourcing program for suppliers. Coles joins Woolworths and Aldi as the major retailers to adopt the program.
Fair Farms is led by Queensland-based horticulture industry body Growcom and is focused on fostering fair and responsible employment practices in the Australian horticulture sector by ensuring growers have the tools and information to implement proper employment practices.
The NFF has supported the development Fair Farms since its inception.
“The adoption of Fair Farms by Coles demonstrates the value of the program along the supply chain,” Mr Mahar said.
“On-farm, Fair Farms ensures farmers know their obligations and that workers are treated fairly. In store, Fair Farms provides peace of mind to customers that the Australian fruit and vegetables they rely on have been produced in an ethical manner.
Mr Mahar said a strong workforce was at the heart of Australia’s vibrant horticulture sector.
“Farmers rely on their workers to care for, pick and pack their produce and they take very seriously their obligation to deliver on their duties as fair and responsible employers.
Mr Mahar said the NFF had a goal to increase the available farm workforce by 25% by 2030.
“The goal is part of our vision for farm gate output to tally $100 billion by the same year and includespositioning Australian farms as best practice workplaces, that deliver a positive experience for farm workers.
“The NFF’s 2030 Roadmap, our plan for $100 billion sets out an action to stamp out worker exploitation.”
“Increasing growers’ understanding of their obligations and providing them the tools and information they need to discharge their duties is a large part of this.
“Fair Farms and Coles’ adoption of the program is also a leap forward on this action.”
Mr Mahar said Fair Farms was about growers taking ownership of the employment practices on their farm.
“The program was developed at grassroots level and will continue to be led by industry.”
A component of Fair Farms requires growers to complete appropriate training and certification to demonstrate their compliance to customers and the wider industry.
Fair Farms also supports growers with tools and information to implement employment practices that comply with workplace relations laws and industry standards. They can then demonstrate this compliance to their customers and the industry through a third-party audited certification scheme.