Farmers say they need support. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
Farmers say they need support. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

Struggling farmers need more support

Earlier in the year it seemed there would never be an end to the $1-a-litre milk war but when the major supermarkets hiked the price and committed to flushing that money through to suppliers, dairy farmers were thrilled.

The industry then welcomed another surprise 10 cent lift from Aldi and Woolworths on Thursday but farmers are less certain the benefits will flow down the pipeline.

"At the moment Aldi and Woolworths have been very quiet about where they see this extra 10 cents going," advocacy body Dairy Connect chief executive Shaughn Morgan said.

He told the supermarkets need to ensure the suppliers get their fair share.

"The current farmgate prices are exceptionally low, and even given the 10 cents from the increase to get rid of $1-a-litre milk is going directly to the dairy farmer, we think that part of this extra income should also flow down."

Woolworths put an end to the price war in February by implementing a 10 cent levy on two and three litre supermarket branded milk to give back to farmers.

"This extraordinary measure was designed to provide much needed confidence and immediate relief to dairy farmers given there had been little to no increase in farmgate prices for some time," a company spokesperson said this week.


Farmers say they need support. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
Farmers say they need support. Picture: Mark Cranitch.


The supermarket giant said the levy, as well as the drought relief milk effort, has enabled Woolworths to hand over $18.8 million to more than 450 dairy farmers.

"Since February we have seen farmgate prices increase significantly and they're forecast to continue rising throughout the year," the company said.

"As a result of these farmgate price movements, we have been paying our suppliers even more for milk and other dairy products across the category over recent months."

Aldi also confirmed it had increased the retail price of its milk.

"These price rises are the direct result of the recent increase in the farm gate milk prices agreed between our milk suppliers and the dairy farmers," a company spokesperson said.

"We will continue to maintain the collection and distribution of 10 cents per litre implemented earlier this year and ensure that the proceeds are passed onto dairy farmers in full."

Mr Morgan said Dairy Connect is on the auditing committee which authorises the filtering of funds from Woolworths to the farmers and confirms the money has been a welcome boost for the industry.

"That money is going directly back to their dairy suppliers, and I also know that it has had a very positive impact on their farming enterprise and has enabled them to survive," he told

"Whereas some of these people would have folded and gone out of the industry."

The Dairy Connect chief executive says dairy farmers need to be supported with realistic pricing otherwise the local industry will crumble and Australians will need to rely on imported dairy products.

This will in turn make the products more expensive.

"We need to make sure that everyone in the dairy value chain makes a profit so that we ensure that we have a sustainable dairy industry in Australia into the future," Mr Morgan said.

"The last thing we need to do is importing fresh and nutritious milk from overseas because it's a short premium shelf life."

Coles also increased the price of its milk earlier in the year but is yet to move make an announcement related to the current price this time round.

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