Supermarket milk price hike to help farmers
HOURS after Woolworths announced a special drought relief milk and a 10 cents per litre levy, Coles has followed suit with both supermarkets promising the extra money will go directly to struggling Aussie farmers.
Earlier today, Woolworths said it would hike the price of its own brand of 3L milk to $3.30 from today, and its special range of drought relief milk hits shelves next month would be the same price.
The announcement led to dairy farmers across the nation questioning Coles' radio silence on the issue.
"We're calling for it across the whole of Australia on all milk. It's a start, it's not enough but the really sad fact is we haven't heard a whisper from Coles," dairy farmer Joe Bradley told the Today Show.
But Coles has announced it will follow suit, introducing the exact same levy - 30 extra cents on its 3L milk - from today.
In a statement, Woolworths said it would work with dairy farmers to set up a drought relief committee that would provide independent oversight to ensure the extra 10 cents per litre goes to dairy farmer in drought-affected areas.
Representatives from the diary industry and an independent auditor will sit on the committee to make sure the money is going where it is supposed to.
The milk will be available in Queensland, New South Wales, ACT and Victoria from mid-October "to help provide short-term relief".
"There's no doubt many dairy farmers are doing it tough in the face of the drought and we're keen to support them through this difficult time," Woolworths Fresh Food Director Paul Harker said.
"Many of our customers have told us they want to help and are willing to pay more for their milk to do so."
Until the drought-relief range hits shelves, Woolworths will hike the price of its 3L milk, the most popular dairy product offered by the supermarket.
Woolworths was recently at the centre of an ACCC inquiry into the nation's dairy industry in the so-called milk wars.
Both Woolworths and Coles were accused of undercutting Aussie dairy farmers to sell milk at an extremely cheap price, leaving hundreds of farmers barely able to make ends meet.
In a statement, Woolworths said it knew the 10 cent levy "won't solve the wider structural issues facing the dairy industry, given Woolworths branded milk accounts for less than five per cent of Australia's total milk production".
The supermarket also encouraged customers to buy other dairy brands, a number of which have already implemented their own measures to help drought-affected farmers.
The move from Woolworths comes a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a national drought summit will be held next month.
Mr Morrison said yesterday that dealing with immediate drought relief was his top priority, as well as ensuring communities can recover and rebuild.
"That (summit) will provide an opportunity to get a status update on everything that is being done both at the state and commonwealth level," he said.
He told the meeting that federal funding given to local councils in drought-hit states for projects to keep towns viable was having a positive impact.
"We can't make it rain but we can support those regional and local economies in those towns," he said.
Mr Morrison said while donations of tinned fruit and other items were welcome in struggling communities, the best support was to spend money locally.
Wednesday's meeting included briefings from national drought co-ordinator Major General Stephen Day and special envoy Barnaby Joyce.
The government's latest drought-relief measure passed the lower house on Wednesday, which allows farmers to immediately deduct the cost of fodder storage assets, making it easier to stockpile.