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Hoarding livestock feed to artificially inflate prices not illegal, says ACCC

Reports are emerging that some unscrupulous operators are exploiting the plight of our drought-ridden farmers, hoarding desperately needed livestock feed to artificially inflate prices.

And the worst part is, the stockpiling is not illegal and the competition watchdog says there is little they can do to stop it.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission cannot regulate to preclude businesses from hiking up prices for commodities that are in high demand and short supply.

And the temptation looks to have been to good to resist for some opportunistic operators.

Hay that was worth $185 a tonne in March is now selling for $500. Meanwhile cottonseed has been catapulted on a similar price hike, soaring from $350 a tonne in May to more than $650.

“We’re not going to tolerate anyone who wants to game the system or take advantage of our farmers in their time of need,” says Niall Blair, NSW Minister for Primary Industries.

“The ACCC have said there is little they can do. So we’ll step in and try and fill the void ourselves.”

“I’m quite prepared to call out anybody not doing the right thing.”

As part of the clampdown, Blair has appointed Derek Schoen as Drought Transport Subsidy Integrity Adviser. He’ll investigate reports of grain being stockpiled to artificially escalate prices, as well as look into transport companies jacking up prices to cash in on recently-announced farming freight subsidies.

“If we find evidence that things are of concern, then we’ll make decisions about what to do with that information,” Blair says.

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