Coles has followed Woolies’ move to increase the price of its 3 litre milk from $3 to $3.30 and both have promised they will donate the entire increase to farmers affected by drought.
I’m rapt that the supermarkets are finally doing something to loosen the screws. Farmers are suffering death by a thousand cuts and even this limited relief is certainly very welcome, particularly in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, where most of the milk ends up in the supermarket fridge.
To everyone who has spoken up for farmers, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
But, and it’s a BIG but, at the risk of sounding like a whingeing farmer, there are three inconvenient truths that will continue to see farmers quit dairying:
- The drought is big trouble, yes, but there’s an exodus of dairy farmers (including those not hit by drought) because there’s simply not enough profit at the farm gate.
- The milk that goes into Colesworth’s $6 cheese is worth less than 60 cents per litre.
- Only about 13 per cent of the milk produced by Australian dairy farms ends up as fresh white milk on the supermarket shelf, even less in Victoria where most of the cows live! The biggest use for our milk is…cheese.
In other words, it’s like putting a band-aid over an ulcer. Better than nothing but you’re hardly going to save the patient.
In an interview with Milk Maid Marian, federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud said he was open to applying a levy to other dairy products, such as cheese, so long as industry asked for one.
In a response to Milk Maid Marian’s question about cheese, Coles would only talk about milk and, at the time of posting, I had no response from Woolworths. Stiff cheddar, I guess!