Coles distributes its milk levy to farmers
COLES is distributing nearly $4 million to 639 dairy farmers across Australia suffering drought.
The money was raised from September to December last year through a 30-cent levy on three-litre bottles of Coles’ Own Brand milk.
More than 290 dairy farmers in Victoria have qualified to receive the drought relief fund money.
Coles said the money would help dairy farmers suffering drought regardless of their location or the processor that bought their milk.
Coles chief operating officer Greg Davis said the supermarket was proud to support the Australian dairy industry.
“This money will provide critical financial support to dairy farmers to assist with feed and water costs for their cattle, farm improvements and even meeting household expenses,” Mr Davis said.
Coles employed Pricewaterhousecoopers to oversee the dairy farmer application process and ensure all funds collected went to eligible milk suppliers.
Coles said the 30-cent levy on milk would not continue this year. The company said the milk levy was part of $16 million collected by Coles and its customers for drought- affected farmers.
Coles customers donated $3.55 million collected at checkout counters for farmers, matched dollar-for dollar by the supermarket.
Coles was also offering $5 million in grants or interest-free loans to farms with projects designed to counter drought.
The supermarket came under fire from Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud last October for applying the levy to only three-litre bottles of its own brand of milk and not across the board to all bottles of milk sold by the supermarket.
Mr Littleproud also complained the money would not necessarily go to dairy farmers supplying Coles, who had complained about the low retail price of home brand milk.
The minister released a statement on Thursday demanding Coles reinstate the levy on it’s products.
“Coles announced a drought levy and it’d be disgraceful to withdraw it a few months later while the drought intensifies,” he said.
“The drought did not end on December 31 and neither should the levy.”
The minister also lashed Aldi, saying it had done “bugger all” for farmers in the drought.