September 5, 2018
Milk processor Parmalat has supported a proposal by the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation that a 10 cents per litre “drought levy” be added to supermarket milk prices to help support farmers.
A QDO statement on Wednesday said Supply Chain General Manager Vince Houlihan had advised the organisation that Parmalat supported the national Drought Levy and had guaranteed it would pass on the full amount back to its farmers.
The move follows the launch of an online petition by the QDO last week calling for the levy.
This petition had been signed by almost 45,000 people by Wednesday evening.
Earlier, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said if retailers were willing to support the levy, he was happy to try to help facilitate it as a temporary measure while structural reform occurred in the industry.
“I support the principle of a temporary levy,” Mr Littleproud said.
“We all know many of our farmers are really struggling right now.
“The dairy sector in particular is having a tough time. Many of our farmers are being paid less than the cost of production. This is unsustainable.
“If our farmers don’t make it through the tough times, they won’t be there to supply Australia milk in the future.
“The fact is $1 milk has devalued the milk category in the eyes of consumers by making it cheaper than water.
“I’ve met with the two big supermarkets and Woolworths has shown leadership on this issue. They say they’re on board so long as other retailers are, too.
“Coles is more reluctant but I hope they’ll come on board.
(A report in Fairfax newspapers said Coles had simply stated the retailer was already doing its bit ‘contributing nearly $11 million to farmers and rural communities affected by drought’.)
“I intend to speak to ALDI and IGA/Metcash as well.
“The Department of Agriculture is currently investigating ways a temporary levy could be implemented.
“Woolworths and Coles are sensitive to the impact of 10 cents extra per litre of milk on family budgets, and I am, too.
“Consumers need to understand the impact of having few Australian dairy farmers north of the Victorian border would be much greater in the long term.
“Consumers have huge power here.
“All those who are outraged on social media would do more for Aussie farmers by paying a 10 cent levy than they do by sharing a video on Facebook.
“The ACCC report into the sector identified market failure.
“I asked the dairy sector to come to a united position on a response to the report and a mandatory Code of Conduct for the dairy industry.
“This has not yet happened.
“A temporary levy could give the industry time to sort out its position on the ACCC report and structural reform.
“I’ve been Minister eight months and this problem has been around more than 20 years – deregulation began in the 1990s – we’ve got to start somewhere and get our farmers through this tough period.”