The Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation (QDO) says a decision by Woolworths and Coles to back the 10 cent “Drought Levy” on milk is a good start.
Woolworths announced on Thursday morning it would release a Drought Relief range of 2 and 3 litre milk bottles.
This limited edition milk range would be sold in Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victoria from mid-October to provide short-term relief to drought-stricken dairy farmers on the eastern seaboard.
Coles announced soon afterwards it would increase the price of its 3 litre range immediately to $3.30.
“While this is a good start to assist drought-affected areas, the 10 cent per litre needs to be applied to all sizes, all brands, across all States to even partially relieve the financial burden facing dairy farmers who are being crippled by the cost of feed,” a statement from the QDO said.
“The drought that is hurting so many farmers is nowhere near over, so Coles’ announcement that they will apply the levy until Christmas shows how little they understand the agricultural sector.
“To have any impact the Drought Levy needs to stay on all fresh milk until we know we are out of drought and our farmers are back on their feet.
“Undoubtedly, the 10 cent per litre Drought Levy campaign has demonstrated to both Woolworths and Coles the value of customer sentiment and the importance of listening to their shoppers when faced with a major crisis for an Australia industry we can ill afford to lose.
“We will continue to urge shoppers to petition supermarkets to apply the levy on all brands and all sizes in all states until the drought is over.”
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud applauded Woolworths and Coles for their actions.
Mr Littleproud said previously he would facilitate the levy idea after it was promoted by the QDO and Kyogle farmer Shane Hickey.
“I rang retailers three weeks ago and asked them to consider a voluntary levy for our farmers and I’m rapt they’ve come to the party. They’ve shown they have a social conscience,” he said.
“Now it’s up to consumers to show they want a #fairgoforfarmers by buying this milk. It’s a small investment to keep our farmers on the land producing milk for our nation.
“Ten cents a litre may not sound like much but it’s huge for our farmers, many of whom are losing money every day, or struggling to break even.
“When companies and people power combine, they can get great results without government.
“The dairy industry needs real structural reform, and I’ve begun work on a mandatory code of conduct. In the meantime, this gives farmers breathing space.”
Shadow Agriculture Minister Tony Perrett praised the QDO for their successful campaign.
“An extra 10 cents a litre goes a long way in helping our dairy farmers who are dealing with record dry and high feed costs.
“In particular I want to commend the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation for its work in lobbying our retailers and processors.
“The Queensland dairy industry is an important part of our agricultural sector and this drought levy will go a long way in supporting our farmers during this devastating drought.
“Credit too should also go to Federal Coalition Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien for their tireless support for this initiative and the dairy industry as a whole.
“Extra money in the pockets of our farmers for every litre of milk they produce is always a good thing.”