Dairy groups split on Coles move to buy directly from farmers.

The Coles move to buy milk directly from farmers has split dairy advocacy groups.

NSW Dairy Connect was glowing in its praise of the move, Australian Dairy Farmers cautiously welcomed it ,while the Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation said it was difficult to trust the intentions of the supermarket giant.

As the new arrangements will apply only in Victoria and central and southern NSW, the QDO stance at this stage is largely academic as its members won't be affected but it reflects the Queensland organisation's moves to position itself as a leading national organisation.

Coles announced last week it would start sourcing milk directly from farmers in Victoria and southern and central NSW from July.

Saputo Australia would continue to pack the milk for the supermarket chain's discount lines, which have sold for $1.10 a litre since March.

Coles has put out the call to Victorian and NSW farmers interested in contracting their milk production to send in an expression of interest.

It said was also "looking for opportunities" to expand its direct buying footprint to other milk-producing regions.

Dairy Connect welcomed the announcement that Coles was side-stepping the processor in NSW and Victoria.

"While stakeholders had yet to have access to the fine print involved with the proposal, on face value, it provides a pathway to the future for the milk supply chain," Dairy Connect president Graham Forbes said .

"Notionally, the proposal should deliver price-certainty for up to three years for dairy producers supplying Coles house brand milk."

The plan would address a number of complaints the farmers had about the existing system.

But QDO said while Woolworths had a direct relationship with farmers through its Farmers' Own brand, this was a premium brand that sold at more than $1.50/L, while the Coles deal would apply to its private label milk, that sold for $1.10/L.

QDO said it expected dairy farmers who supplied Coles to receive the full 10c/L the supermarket had promised would be directly passed on to farmers when it lifted the retail price earlier this year.

It also expressed concern about the potential power imbalance between Coles and its suppliers.
The QDO said farmers, as small business owners, already struggled to negotiate with multinational processors for a fair farmgate price. 

It asked what hope would an individual farmer have to negotiate a fair and sustainable farmgate price when up against the might of Coles.

"At this stage, the nuts and bolts of how and what this relationship and process will look like is pure speculation, with only Coles knowing truly what its intentions are," QDO executive officer Eric Danzi said.

The supermarket should be lifting its price of fresh milk to pre-2010 levels.

"What we need to ensure is that this does not give Coles even more power over dairy farmers and does not allow Coles to revert to $1/L pricing," Mr Danzi said.Australian Dairy Farmers said more competition for milk was healthy and the Coles deal had the potential to provide greater transparency within the dairy supply chain between farmers and retailers.

But although saying it was hopeful, it wanted further information about how the deal would work.
It also called on Coles to commit to ensuring that $1/L milk never returned to its shelves.

The most unsustainable part of the dairy industry was the lack of value being returned to farmers through the domestic market.

ADF said it was imperative value was delivered through the supply chain, with farmers receiving their fair share for the hard work, risk and investment they had in this industry. 

This included farmers securing their fair share of future retail price increases across the dairy cabinet.

Source: Farm Online. This story first appeared on Australian Dairyfarmer

Can we trust them? QDO takes on watchdog role following Coles' announcement.

Coles’ announcement that they intend to bypass processors and start a direct relationship with dairy farmers came as surprise to most within the industry and many are trying to determine what position to take. Given Coles’ previous history with the dairy industry, it is difficult to trust the intentions of the supermarket giant.

While Woolworths has had a direct relationship with farmers through Farmers’ Own, this brand competes with other premium branded white milks at a price point above $3 for 2 litres. Coles, however, intends to sell its farm direct milk as its private label.

Coles has previously committed to ensuring all of the additional 10c/L added to its milk price is passed through to farmers. It would be expected that this latest announcement will see dairy farmers who supply Coles receive 10c/L, or around $1.30/kg of milk solids, above previous prices they received.

In their statement, Coles cites its existing ‘successful’ direct producer relationships to show that this proposed model can work to provide health profit margins for both retailers and the farmers.

The 2018 ACCC report into the dairy industry identified the imbalance of power within the value chain as the key to the failure of the dairy industry. The Mandatory Code of Conduct for the dairy industry, that is currently being drafted as a direct result of this report, seeks to address the imbalance of power between farmers and the processors.

As individual small business owners, farmers have struggled to negotiate with multinational processors for a fair farm gate price. One must question then, what hope an individual farmer will have to negotiate a fair and sustainable farmgate price when they go up against the might of Coles.

 The fact is that Coles is capitalising on consumer sympathy for the dairy industry. The massive support that consumers gave dairy farmers during last year’s Drought Relief campaign has prompted Coles to use this to boost sales of its discount product lines over branded milks. Consumers will undoubtedly believe that this new arrangement has been designed to benefit the farmer and therefore support it.

 “At this stage, the nuts and bolts of how and what this relationship and process will look like is pure speculation, with only Coles knowing truly what its intentions are” said QDO Executive Officer, Eric Danzi.

 “We need to work with the supermarket giant to increase the RRP price of fresh milk to pre-2010 pricing. In today’s market that would equate to around $1.50/L. which would allow farmers to receive a fair farmgate price.

 What we need to ensure is that this does not give Coles even more power over dairy farmers and does not allow Coles to revert to $1/L pricing”.

 <ENDS>

 For media enquiries please contact Sarah Ferguson 0424 416 317.

Coles to cut out milk processors, and deal directly with dairy farmers.

Coles has announced it will bypass processors and contract milk directly from dairy farmers in NSW and Victoria from July 1.

Key points:

  • From July 1, Coles will bypass milk processors and deal directly with farmers in NSW and Victoria

  • Coles has not revealed a price, but says it will be a "competitive farm gate price"

  • The cost of homebrand milk will remain unchanged, despite the deal

In the past, Coles has used processors to source milk for its homebrand products, with Norco contracted in NSW and Queensland and Saputo sourcing milk from Victoria and Southern NSW.

The new model will offer longer term contracts that allow farmers to choose from one, two or three-year contracts.

It marks a shift to a model more in line with competitor Woolworths, where the supermarket will be able to offer a direct price to farmers.

Coles chief operation officer Greg Davis said in a press release it would offer a "competitive farm gate price", but did not specifically reveal a price.

"In addition to offering a fair and competitive price, dairy farmers will have more choice regarding the length of contract and more certainty around income," he said.

"If the model works as we hope it will, we will look for opportunities to expand the footprint to other milk-producing regions and potentially other products in the dairy case."

The ABC understands Coles representatives have met with farmers in Victoria over the past few months.

Coles said it would also contribute an additional $1.9 million for research into the Coles Sustainable Dairy Development Group.

The cost of homebrand milk for two and three-litre milk will remain unchanged at $2.20 and $3.30 respectively.

President of farm group Dairy Connect, Graham Forbes, said Coles appeared to be adopting a model common among UK supermarkets such as Tesco.

It was unclear how Coles contracts and pricing would be structured, however some farmers were hopeful long-term contracts would help give them more security.

Coles said it would offer a guaranteed price for two years and a floor price for the third year.

"It will put a bit more competition out there in the marketplace, and let's hope it lifts the price to farmers and gives them some long-term security," Mr Forbes said.

"It will be very interesting to see how it impacts on Saputo suppliers currently in NSW.

"There is a lot of competition from Parmalat at the moment, Lion has been a bit quiet while it's up for sale, but it will be a very interesting few weeks to see how the processors respond."

David Inall, representing Australian Dairy Farmers, said he was surprised by the announcement.

"It came out of the blue, it's early days, we're not aware that any farmers are contracted to Coles at this stage, but we look forward to more detail around contract and prices," Mr Inall said.

"They have told us that they will offer a price that they believe will be in the top quartile of what is currently on offer, which is certainly an encouraging sign, which will make it very competitive."

Mr Inall expressed concern that this could lead to a return to $1 per litre milk.

"But we'd also expect that this will not see a return to $1 per litre milk, that they have not created this model to slide back to $1 dollar per litre milk — that's a debate we don't want to have again," he said.

Processors face fierce competition for milk

According to food industry analyst and director of Fresh Agenda, Joanne Bills, there were reasons why supermarkets were moving to deal directly with farmers.

"In the UK supermarkets have found that you can add transparency to the supply chain and also implement specific processes, standards, or animal welfare requirements," she said.

"But in Australia it could be looking to avoid some of the fallout from the $1 per litre milk, similar to the way that Woolworths has with its 'Farmer's Own' brand."

Ms Bills believed that, while the fresh milk market represented only a fraction of the Australian dairy industry, the move to deal directly with farmers would add new competition and complexities for processors.

Coles declined an interview with the ABC.

Source: ABC News

Dairy farmers thank retailers for helping move the industry forward.

Late yesterday afternoon, the Australian dairy industry rejoiced with the announcement from Coles and Aldi that they intended to remove $1/L milk across all stores from today.

While we celebrated when Woolworths first announced the removal of $1 milk from its shelves, the dairy industry could not claim success until Coles, Australia’s second largest supermarket in terms of market share, also agreed. That Aldi followed closely behind is no surprise.

“We are delighted by Coles’ announcement last night” said QDO President Brian Tessmann. “They have recognised that a fixed base price for milk was unsustainable and it is great that Coles appears keen to play a key role in helping move the Australian dairy industry forward. “

“$1 milk is dead and gone and it’s time to move on. We’re looking forward to working closely with all retailers, processors and government to address the larger systemic issues within the dairy industry. Finding and implementing long term, sustainable structural reforms is our next goal. Getting there will need to be a concerted effort by all parties” said Mr Tessmann.

“Having key political leaders including Agricultural Minister David Littleproud, Llew O’Brien and Matt Canavan keep the pressure on supermarkets throughout our campaign has been instrumental. Their continued support, and the support of all politicians, will be imperative to move the dairy industry forward” said Mr Tessmann.

The battle to end $1 milk has been waged by various state and national dairy industry bodies since it was introduced just over 8 years ago. Until now, it has been easy for supermarkets to ignore the noise and whinging.

 “We have never said that a 10-cent increase was our end goal. It’s nowhere near enough. While all dairy farmers appreciate the goodwill of the Australian public in response to the drought, at the end of the day we can’t survive on charity and don’t want to. We simply want to get on with business and make sure that we can continue to provide Australians with fresh dairy produce” said Mr Tessmann.

“That the statement by Coles implies that they want to play a leading role in making this happen is not just a good thing, but a great thing” said Mr Tessmann.

For more information contact QDO 0424 416 317

In the News: Dollar milk ends as Coles, Aldi fold to pressure with pledge to raise prices by 10 cents a litre.

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PHOTO: Peter Garrett said the milk price rise helps people see a future beyond the next few months. (ABC Rural: Lydia Burton)

Major retailers Coles and Aldi have increased the price of cheap milk in a bid to help struggling dairy farmers.

Key points:

  • Both Coles and Aldi will match Woolworths and charge an extra 10 cents per litre for their home brand milk

  • The supermarkets say the measures are temporary, to aid struggling dairy farmers

  • However, both retailers said industry reforms were needed to address the problems facing dairy producers

Dairy suppliers are celebrating the victory in the war against $1-a-litre milk, with the major retailers increasing the price of their private label milk.

They have railed against cheap milk, which they argue has devalued their product since it was first introduced in 2011.

The supermarkets have now commitment to return an extra 10 cents per litre direct to dairy farmers, mirroring a commitment from Woolworths last month.

Chair of dairy cooperative Norco, Greg McNamara, one of two processors with contracts with Coles, said some of Coles' 10 cent increase may already be factored into a previous lift.

"We started that process with Coles around two months ago, around trying to put a price increase through, so every customer took a price increase around 6.5 cents," he said.

"Coles at that point chose not to raise the price and wear that themselves, which is quite kind of them really in one respect, and now they've come out and said we're going to change it and we're actually going to raise the price."

Farmers said while milk is still cheaper today compared to in 2010, they hoped the change had "broken the back" of dollar milk which they claim has contributed to crippling the industry.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud recently called on Australian shoppers to boycott Aldi and Coles for as long as the supermarkets continued to offer cheap milk.

Sustained pressure

Coles and Aldi both issued statements on Tuesday night announcing the price of two and three-litre home brand milk at their stores would increase by 10 cents per litre from March 20.

 Coles described the price increase as an interim measure, and Aldi said the price hike was a short-term solution.

Both supermarkets said the proceeds would be passed on to dairy farmers.

"This victory is a good start in the war against $1-a-litre milk," Mr Littleproud said.

"I welcome this news and I encourage supermarkets and processors to spread this right across the dairy range."

 Coles chief executive Steven Cain said drought had compounded many of the difficult issues Australian dairy farmers are facing.

Announcing the price increase, Mr Cain said the retailer was "continuing to explore long-term solutions with government and industry stakeholders" to help the dairy industry.

"However, we know that many dairy farmers cannot wait for structural reform to be delivered so we are moving to provide relief right now," Mr Cain said.

In a written statement, Aldi Australia spokesman Oliver Bongardt said the German retailer would work with dairy processors to support the long-term viability of the dairy industry.

"Our decision to increase fresh milk prices has been reached in recognition of the significant issues currently impacting the dairy industry and the fact that broader government-led policy reform is unlikely to occur in the short term," Mr Bongardt said.

Norco, which supplies Coles with milk for its home brand milk product with another processor, Saputo, had recently informed its suppliers of a 6.5 cents-a-litre increase in farmgate price from April 1 for three months.

The Norco management team is meeting today to discuss Coles' 10 cent increase and to work through the details to determine what increase its suppliers would receive.

Forget dollar a litre milk. The dairy crisis has more to do with global trade wars than it does with cheap supermarket milk.

Chair Greg McNamara said Coles had to be congratulated for finally deciding to lift prices of its home brand milk.

"I think the biggest challenge for the industry is we should never go through this again, where we actually hold pricing at these levels and the consumer is actually taken to paying a reasonable price increase in one hit," he said.

"It should be incremental just like wage increases."

Norco supplies Coles with 70 million litres of milk per year, about a third of its business, for its supermarket home brand milk.

Suppliers note long fight

The price increase comes as Australian dairy farmers are expected to produce the lowest level of milk since the mid-1990s.

A growing number of dairy farmers are exiting the industry, saying it costs more to produce the milk than they are paid for it.

Drought, a downturn in crucial export markets, and high feed, water and electricity prices have made it difficult for farmers to compete since a global downturn in mid-2016.

Dairy farmer Vanessa Todd, a Coles supplier based in Bodalla in NSW, said it had been a long time coming.

"I think it's fantastic, it's what farmers have been pushing for for a long time. It's soul destroying to see your product sold at such a low price," she said.

"I'm not sure what the increase in price will mean to me, but it's farmers that have to keep the pressure on processors to make sure this will be passed on in full to farmers.

Whether the change had come through lobbying from politicians, consumers or processors, Ms Todd said the change has been led by farmers.

"I think it's continuous lobbying from a small group of dairy farmers who have been knocking on doors, working behind the scenes and saying 'you cannot keep undervaluing our product'," she said.

"There needs to be huge structural change to the Australian dairy industry.

"If we don't see a change in the structure in the way dairy farmers are paid we will continue to see milk prices fall and dairy farmers leaving the industry."

Southern Queensland dairy farmer Peter Garrett said today was a historic day.

"It's the first step of what needs to be an industry wide reform towards a more sustainable price," he said.

"Ten cents isn't going to do it long term, but it's certainly a huge shot in the arm for the dairy industry.

"We're not saying it's the absolute saviour of the industry, but it is certainly the saviour of farms here and now as it helps people see a future beyond the next two or three months and continue farming hopefully."

Mr Garrett said it will help cover some of his increased feed costs due to the drought.

"I think it [the price increase] takes out about a third of my daily costs of feeding my cows," he said.

"I'm not sure it gets us back in the black yet, but it certainly gets our head well above the water and gives us a bit of breathing room so we can step back and make considered decisions going forward."

Queensland farms nearly halve

Queensland Dairy Farmers vice-president Matthew Trace said the news was absolutely fantastic and a game changer for the northern dairy industry, which focuses on fresh milk.

"It's a bit surreal … when you've been fighting such a tough battle for so long and so many people, including some farmers, said 'you won't beat them, you can't beat them, they're stronger than the government'," he said.

"Yet I think we've shown by working with consumers we have been able to defeat the retailers. It just shows what power consumers have."

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PHOTO: Mary Valley farmer and Queensland Dairy Farmers vice-president Matthew Trace says the price rise "gives us a chance to farm". (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

He said he hoped the change will convince farmers to stick with the industry after the number of Queensland dairy farms dropped from 700 to 360 in recent years.

"It's been absolutely devastating in Queensland. We've virtually lost one in two dairy farms and unfortunately these price rises now can't bring them back," he said.

Feed prices have also spiralled because of the drought, and it is hoped the price rise will make a big difference.

"It's different from farm to farm, but this money will put some farmers back in the black and being able to pay their bills," Mr Trace said.

"I've heard some talk of up to 20 cents a litre that their costs have increased.

"It's not as though everyone's going to be out there making money and going 'fantastic', but what it does do is it gives us a chance to farm."

Source: ABC News. With additional reporting by Joshua Becker/Bega, Lydia Burton/Toowoomba, Kim Honan/Lismore and Jennifer Nichols/Sunshine Coast

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:

Coles faces further backlash for refusal to lift the price of milk.

A fourth-generation dairy farmer says he would prefer to give his milk away for free than sell it as a loss for the benefit of the major supermarket.

Dairy farmers are so “angry and disappointed” with Coles for refusing to hike its milk price he is threatening to tear up his contract with processor Norco.

Woolworths announced earlier this week it will add an extra 10 cents per litre to benefit struggling farmers who would receive “every cent” of the price increase.

But Coles resisted calls to follow its rival, citing cost of living pressures on customers when defending the company’s decision.

Paul Weir, a fourth-generation dairy farmer in northern NSW, is in the top 10 per cent of Norco’s producers with a supply of 2.5 million litres of milk a year, the ABC reported.

The cooperative is contracted to process milk for Coles.

“Full credit to Woolworths for doing it, but words can’t describe how angry and disappointed we are with Coles’ stand,” he told the national broadcaster.

“We’re in one of the worst droughts in history, milk’s dropping down to one of the lowest records in a long time, and everyone around here is doing it tough, feed costs have gone through the roof.

“The fundamental problem is that it’s well under the cost of production, and if this industry is going to be sustainable we need a price rise across the whole dairy cabinet — milk, cheese, yoghurts, butter, the whole lot.”

Mr Weir told the ABC he had contacted Norco asking for an early release from his contract unless the major supermarket changes its tune on the price of milk.

“Their business values and mine just don’t agree, I choose not to do business with people like that and I don’t want any of my milk going through a Coles for them to make profit out of it while I’m sitting here making a loss on it.

“I would much prefer to give my milk away in front of a Coles shop then actually let Coles sell it as a loss just for them to profiteer on it.”

Rather than lift the price of milk, Coles said earlier in the week it would be collecting donations for dairy farmers and matching every dollar raised from Monday.

“One thing I can’t do as CEO of Coles is disadvantage our customers at a time when clearly they’re under household budget strain,” said Coles chief Steven Cain after handing down the company’s first half-year result on Tuesday.

“We’ve been one of the main supporters of farmers, we’ve distributed nearly $16 million so far, but it’s important that we don’t disadvantage Coles customers.”

"Woolworths is getting rid of $1 milk. It’s time Coles and Aldi got behind dairy farmers and did the same.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud on Tuesday took the drastic step to call on shoppers to boycott both Coles and Aldi for refusing to lift the price of its budget milk.

He accused the supermarket chain of “pretending” to be a decent corporate citizen and Aldi of “hiding under the stairs”.

Dairy farmers struggling with drought needed an end to Australia’s “$1 milk disaster”, he said, a price war that began eight years ago and has been blamed for sending some farmers to the wall.

“Publicity stunts like (Coles) asking shoppers to donate at the counter to help struggling farmers are just a smoke screen to hide the fact they pay bugger-all for milk,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The farmers wouldn’t need donations from the public if Coles and Aldi paid fair prices.”

A Coles spokesperson told news.com.au that it continues to support the dairy farming industry.

“Coles has been exploring additional options in relation to how to best support Australia’s hard working farmers, including how we ensure that drought assistance initiatives are as efficient and effective as possible,” the spokesperson said.

“Coles is committed to finding a better model that can be adopted by the industry to assist Australian farmers, and intends to liaise with relevant parties including government and the ACCC.”

Source: News.com.au

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

Retailers must do the right thing by dairy farmers.

For nearly a decade, dairy farmers have been wearing the pain caused by discounted products, whether it’s $1 per litre milk or cheap cheese.

I remember when the first $1 per litre products went on supermarket shelves on Australia Day, 2011 and the outrage caused by the resultant “milk wars”.

Prior to this marketing campaign, the last time milk was $1 per litre was around 1992. But in 2018, it’s impossible to live on a wage set at 1992 levels.

Now there is momentum to turn things around and give value back to the dairy supply chain.

Some supermarket chains have announced plans to help drought-affected dairy farmers.

Woolworths plans to introduce a special range of milk priced at $1.10 per litre in mid-October. Homebrand 2L and 3L milk products are currently on shelves for $1.10 per litre until the drought-relief milk product launches.

Coles is now selling its 3L Own Brand milk products for $3.30, with the money collected to be distributed back to farmers via a fund with an application process.

Both have been upfront about the fact that their initiatives are only short-term measures that aren’t intended to solve the problem of discounted dairy products.

As President of Australian Dairy Farmers, I represent farmers all across the country. Many are calling me asking how they are eligible to receive a fair price from either of these plans.

The problem with both plans is that many regions of Australia affected by drought with high production costs impacting thousands of dairy farmers, yet most of those farmers won’t be able to claim a benefit from either initiative.

Coles has encouraged any dairy farmers to apply for a grant through their fund, but those in drought-declared areas will be given priority, while

Woolworths intends to distribute the extra 10c from their drought-relief milk back to farmers via their processor.

While I support measures that see farmers paid a reasonable price for their hard work and dedication, I must ask, “Is this really the best we can do?”

Certainly ADF and our state dairy farmer organisations believe all dairy farmers must see a benefit from any increase in retail milk prices.

Farmers put tireless effort and resources into producing a quality product. And it leaves a deep and lasting impact to see your hard work sitting on a supermarket shelf for less than the price of water.

This pricing practice is not viable and we urgently need a shared solution to assist in building the long-term sustainability of Australian dairy farmers.

Ultimately, we must push for a permanent end to discounted dairy products, whether it’s $1 per litre milk or cheap cheese.

There is a groundswell of support for farmers hit hard by the drought and supermarkets have the best opportunity to scrap their discounted dairy products right across the breadth and depth of the dairy cabinet.

The supermarkets know what farmers want. They know what they deserve. It’s now time for them to take a big step forward and do the right thing by ending this pricing practice.

But until that time comes, I encourage the public to help dairy farmers by continuing to buy branded dairy products.

Source: - Terry Richardson, ADF President