The end of Woolworths’ $1 a litre milk won’t help most Hunter dairy farmers as they battle to stay afloat amid soaring production costs.
The supermarket giant has permanently lifted its own brand milk to $1.10 a litre and the money from the 10 cent rise will be split between the farmers who helped make it.
Coles and Aldi are refusing to follow suit for different reasons. This means some of the region’s farmers will keep receiving a monthly payment to help pay the bills while the majority miss out.
“I refuse to shop at Coles now, I’m absolutely disgusted with them – I don’t think they’ve done enough to support Australian farmers.
“I do feel lucky that we stayed with [milk processing company] Parmalat who supply Woolworths, but I really feel for the farmers who are missing out,”Singleton dairy farmer Melinda Hassett said.
“They should be doing what Woolworths has been doing since it started its drought relief fund – dairy farmers should have been automatically getting the money every month.”
Coles says it is trying to find a better way to support farmers and noted the ACCC found $1 milk did not have a negative impact on farm gate prices.
A spokeswoman said the supermarket had already given $16 million to drought relief, including about $4 million to almost 640 dairy farmers.
Read more:Dairy farmer battling drought
Read more:Farmers walking a financial tightrope
Aldi says it has been paying significantly more for its milk and has not passed that cost onto shoppers. It concluded that was the best way it could help.
With up to five dairy farmers leaving the industry across the country every week, Mrs Hassett said more had to be done.
She supports a set price for milk that reflects the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
In the meantime she has joined Bandon Grove dairy farmer Emily Neilson in publicly backing Lyne MP Dr David Gillespie’s call for Woolworths, Coles and Aldi to implement a 10 cent rise on all dairy products, with the extra money going back to farmers.
“Because milk has been set at the same price for years it’s not profitable for anyone,” Mrs Hassett said.
"We’ve all been sucking it up for so long but we can’t do it any longer because we’re going behind and going further into debt."
The 10 cent levy would also help farmers whose milk goes into private label products.
It’s up to shoppers now to decide what they will support. They need to realise where their food comes from before it’s too late and we’re all gone.
Mrs Neilson said that would help every dairy farmer meet their rising costs.
She sells milk to Saputo which supplies Coles' own brand milk. The only assistance she has received from the supermarket is a one of $6000 payment from its drought relief fund.
"It's good to see Woolworths make the first move and get rid of it because it's good morale for the industry and gives us hope," Mrs Neilson said.
Dr Gillespie has joined NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair and Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan in praising Woolworths.
"But with only Woolworths doing it the rest of us are missing out and we all have the same challenges with our costs going up. We all need to be getting an extra 10 cents for every litre of milk that we produce."
Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said the company wanted to play a constructive role in creating change.