The supermarkets’ response to drought are chalk and cheese.

No wonder everyone is confused about who is helping our drought-stricken farmers.

Just before the end of 2018, Woolworths’ announced that it would continue to run with its Drought Relief range until June 30, 2019. On the other hand, Coles has made no extension to the levy which closed on 31 December.

Given that we are still heavily in drought this demonstrates just how much value Coles has for our dairy farmers.

To date, Woolworth’s has paid out $4.5 million to 286 dairy farmers across Queensland, NSW and northern Victoria via Parmalat. As the supplier of Woolworth’s private label milk, payments via Parmalat was the fastest, most reliable channel to get every cent raised back to the farm gate. The amount given to each farm is being calculated based on volume.

Woolworths has been paying the levy to farmers monthly since they began in October. Coles only advised successful recipients last week which means that the money collected from customers has been sitting within Coles’ coffers for a spell, gaining a good wad of interest.

The $3,974,292.30 collected by Coles is to be divided between the 639 farmers that applied for the fund. That equates to $6,219.5 per farm. With the price of Lucerne hay being over $800 incl GST, the amount paid out by Coles to each farmer equates to around 7 tonnes – a pittance given the amount of feed a herd goes through.

While it is great that non-Norco farmers applied and received funding from Coles, it was an illogical way to administer the fund and for many it’s a case of too little too late.

While hard to do a clean comparison, there is little doubt that Coles treated the Drought Levy as a stunt. Due to public and media pressure, they had to capitulate but did so reluctantly and as minimally as possible.

Shoppers truly want to support our farmers and are happy to pay more for their milk to do so and are not affected by a 10-cent price rise. It is certainly time for change.

Mr Matthew Trace – Vice-President Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation.