Dairy farmers ask Coles: Is it worth destroying an industry for just 10 cents?

If the supermarket giant Coles anticipated that the dairy industry would walk away from its 8-year fight to end $1 milk without resolution, then today it was reminded of the industry’s resolve.

More than two dozen dairy farmers from some of the current drought’s worst hit regions including the Darling Downs, Scenic Rim, Sunshine Coast and Gympie, left their farms to join fellow farmers and supporters in a protest at Coles’ Cooparoo store this morning.

“Flipping the marketing slogan Good things are happening launched by Coles last year, seemed appropriate for the occasion” said Marketing and Communications Manager, Sarah Ferguson.

 “There is nothing good about this situation. There is nothing good about a single company being able to control the base price for a commodity.

Coles cannot continue the same old tired rhetoric about how much it is helped farmers through the drought. Firstly, the major contribution was made by its customers; and secondly, every supermarket chain did likewise. $1 milk has gone on for 8 years too long. It’s time for the Coles Board to say to senior management, enough is enough.

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Coles’ continues to ignore what its shoppers want and those shoppers want to support our farming industries. Coles relies on data and market research rather than walking into a store and talking to people. Purchasing behaviour does not always equal personal sentiment” said Ms Ferguson.

“They’re [Coles’ are] acting like a bunch of school kids – being bullies and picking on the smaller kids. We’re tired of Coles’ arrogance. The Australian public is tired of Coles’ arrogance. It’s boring to keep going over the same ground over and over again.

We just want to get on with earning a living and running our businesses. For goodness sake, it’s just 10 cents.” said Norco supplier and QDO Vice President, Matt Trace.

Given the past weeks soaring temperatures, the dairy farmers attending today’s protest could ill afford to leave their herds. “If you think it is bad here in Brisbane, you can only imagine the conditions in the middle of paddock that has no pasture, limited feed and limited water.”

Watch the news reports below:

In the News: Dairy farmer’s online campaign to end $1 milk draws attention.

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A DAIRY farmer’s online campaign urging Coles and Aldi to abandon their cheap milk prices is gathering speed.

Fifth-generation dairy farmer from Kingaroy, Damien Tessmann, started the campaign to get Coles and Aldi to end $1-per-litre milk prices “through the power of social media”.

After Woolworths ended its $1 milk prices last week, there has been a strong call for the other big supermarkets to follow suit.

Kingaroy dairy farmer, Damien Tessmann, has started an online campaign urging Coles and Aldi to end $1-per-litre milk. Picture: contributed

Mr Tessman started the Facebook group C’mon Coles, where he shared a video calling for other dairy farmers to share their stories, and urged consumers to boycott Coles and Aldi.

Across all media platforms, the video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

“I think it’s one of these things where it’s important to be grassroots and farmer driven,” Mr Tessmann said.

“I want to do something to communicate with consumers and to make sure they vote with their wallets.

“It really is that David-and-Goliath battle.

“It’s (the response) really been overwhelming and it’s really about keeping that pressure on. I think people really do want to help farmers, I don’t buy into that city/country divide.”

The Likes on the C’mon Coles Facebook page have been growing organically, according to Mr Tessmann.

“It’s started off here in Kingaroy and I often look at (Facebook) notifications of where people are coming from. There was one this morning from Western Australia.

“It’s really great that we’ve got this far from just a farmer posting a video.”

Mr Tessmann and a group of other dairy farmers took a cow and stood outside Aldi in Kenmore, talking to consumers.

Damien Tessmann, Susan McDonald, Craig Brook, and Brad Teese with Dianne the jersey cow outside Aldi in Kenmore. Picture: contributed

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“All demographics had positive things to say about the dairy industry and our cause,” he said.

“It really warms my heart that consumers in metropolitan Australia want to help us out.”

Mr Tessmann has been in the dairy industry all his life.

“It’s something that consumes you,” he said.

“When you’re on the land in a particular industry, you become really passionate about it.

“Dairy farmers are renowned for being on the shy side, so it’s great to see farmers getting passionate and involved and that’s what’s keeping me going.”

The C’mon Coles Facebook page has received 1600 Likes so far.

Kilcoy dairy farmer, Ashley Harrison, has also gotten behind the campaign and shared a video on the page.

But Mr Tessmann said other diary farmers had been hesitant.

“There has been some reluctance from Norco suppliers,” he said.

“It’s horrible that they think there will be a backlash from Coles if they openly jump on this campaign.

“That’s been the feedback from half a dozen farmers.

“I think that’s really sad about the state of the dairy industry.”

Mr Tessman said the next step in the campaign was to keep the momentum going.

“It’s about keeping that pressure on, but it all comes down to consumers. They’re our biggest weapon in this battle.

“It’s been a deafening silence from Coles. We’ve been tagging them in all our posts.

“Woolworths responded and said ‘thank you for your support and we understand how important the dairy industry is’.

“Coles can’t even return a tweet to say ‘this is what we’re doing’.”

Source: CASSANDRA GLOVER, Rural Weekly