Coles dis­trib­utes its milk levy to farm­ers

Gatton Star - - LIFE INTO RURAL -

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.

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