Farmers pursue class action

March 15, 2017

Disgruntled dairy farmers angered at last year’s dairy price clawbacks have teamed up to take on the processors in court.

Melbourne-based class action law firm Adley Burstyner announced earlier this month it would go ahead with a class action against Murray Goulburn and Fonterra, to fight what it claimed was an illegal clawback.

They will be joined by Harwood Andrews, Victoria’s oldest rural law firm, with proceedings expected to be filed in the Federal Court in the next few months.

Solicitor David Burstyner said farmers had been hit hard by the clawbacks and he wanted to make sure big processors could never do something similar again.

‘‘They will just keep up this type of behaviour unless farmers get up and take a stand against them,’’ Mr Burstyner said.

‘‘We want to stop them from ever thinking that a clawback is okay.’’

Interest in a potential class action started brewing after the clawbacks were announced by the big processors last year.

Staff from Adley Burstyner have met with dairy farmers around the Goulburn Valley, as well as across regional Victoria, southern NSW and Tasmania.

‘‘We are not the only ones who think this is illegal,’’ Mr Burstyner said.

‘‘There is the ASIC inquiry, the senate inquiry and two ACCC inquiries. It is not for nothing that there are these four government investigations.’’

A number of farmers have already signed up for the class action, which will be on a no-win, no-fee basis. Farmers can still express their interest in joining the action, but Mr Burstyner warned they would need to get in contact quickly.

‘‘We are going to proceed with what we have got, so those that have not signed up will miss out,’’ he said.

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—Barclay White

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