Fair Farms, the industry-developed workplace training and certification program for employers in the Australian horticulture industry was officially launched today in Melbourne at the national horticulture convention, Hort Connections.

Developed by Growcom, the peak representative body for Queensland horticulture, Fair Farms is the industry’s proactive response to identified problems around workplace compliance and exploitation within the Australian horticulture industry.

Fair Farms Manager, Thomas Hertel said the program had been developed by industry, for industry.

“The program will support all members of the Australian horticultural supply chain with tools, information and training to implement employment practices that comply with existing labour laws and ethical standards,” Mr Hertel said.

“As a Fair Farms certified employer, supply chain members will be able to demonstrate to their consumers, workers and customers a commitment to fair and responsible employment practices through an independent third-party audit.

“We want to work with the retailers and others fresh produce buyers on this, who can reward good practices through their buying decisions and create consumer awareness.”

The Fair Farms program has already received support from supermarket chains Aldi and Woolworths, who accept suppliers choosing Fair Farms as their ethical audit program.

Woolworths Head of Produce, Paul Turner said the supermarket was pleased to work closely with Growcom on the development of the Fair Farms program.

“We’re committed to being a responsible retailer and a big part of this is working with industry to uphold the rights of workers in our horticultural supply chains,” Mr Turner said.

“It’s great to see industry take the lead, and we congratulate Growcom on the launch of Fair Farms.”

A highlight of the Fair Farms launch was the announcement of the first Fair Farms certified grower, Mary-Jane and Cam Turner from Riverdale Herbs in Queensland.

“As an employer it was important for us to be able to distinguish our business from those that don’t employ ethically,” Ms Turner said.

“We chose Fair Farms as our ethical audit program because it was developed by Growcom. They have been supportive of us as a grower and the wider horticulture industry for many years and we had faith that the Fair Farms Standard would be a true reflection on a grower’s needs and requirements.

“Going through the assessment and audit process was a valuable exercise. It has allowed us to review our business documents, modernise our systems, and consolidate our records.”

AUSVEG, the national peak industry body representing the interests of 9000 Australian vegetable and potato growers said the organisation was very pleased to support the Fair Farms initiative and work with Growcom and other industry partners to expand the program nationally.

“Our industry must take responsibility for ensuring that Australian workplace relations laws and industry standards are correctly implemented on-farm, and that growers are aware of their duties as fair and responsible employers,” AUSVEG CEO, James Whiteside said.

“Fair Farms is an industry-led initiative that allows growers to take ownership of their fair employment practices and access appropriate training and certification to demonstrate their compliance to customers and the wider industry.”

For more information on the program visit the Fair Farms website: www.fairfarms.com.au

Fair Farms is developed and delivered by Growcom with support from the Fair Work Ombudsman, The Federal Department of Agriculture and AUSVEG.