Norco farmers betrayed by Coles' response to 10 cent / litre Drought Levy.

Yesterday saw both major supermarkets announce that they would put the 10 cent / litre Drought Levy on, but only for their 3L home brand milk.

This was a clever tactic. Why? Because singling out the one product that larger families with the most pressure on household budgets for the levy increase, means it is likely many will not purchase the Drought Levy product and will simply opt for the still discounted 2L option.

But what has been the biggest betrayal to the levy and its supplier of home-brand milk is Coles’ announcement that the levy would be handed to the National Farmers Federation (NFF) instead of giving the 10-cent levy directly back to Norco to distribute to its farmers.

The question must be asked to Coles – why have such a convoluted process of giving the 10 cents back to the dairy farmers rather than allowing Norco, a farmer-owned coop, to distribute the levy back on a per litre basis?

The reason is clear, by having the NFF manage the levy, Coles can pull the levy much faster than if it was managed by Norco.

Coles, give the drought levy funding to Norco, and other processors who supply your milk, and allow them to distribute it fairly to farmers.

In its statement, Coles announced that they would apply the levy on its 3L home brand until Christmas. To have any impact the Drought Levy needs to stay on all fresh milk until we know our farmers are out of drought and are back on their feet.

Woolworths, while also announcing the 3L home brand range levy, has at least been in direct negotiations with its processor, Parmalat. Woolworths announced that the money raised will go to its supplier, Parmalat, which will then distribute it on a monthly basis among the farmers who supply Parmalat. QDO Executive Officer Eric Danzi will also be involved on an audit committee to ensure full transparency of the 10 cent/litre levy going back to Parmalat suppliers.

As much as we don’t like hurting our Norco farmers, we ask the public again, boycott Coles until they come to the party on all brands and all sized milk bottles and work with Norco on distributing the levy back to its farmers.

This issue will not go away until we get the Drought Levy applied to all milks, all sizes and in all states.