Supermarket giants slammed for 'half-baked' effort to help struggling farmers

Supermarkets that introduced a milk levy to support drought-affected farmers have been slammed for the “half-baked” plan by federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

The minister said Coles and Woolworths failed to follow through with the original idea of a 10-cent-a-litre levy on all milk brands that would be paid to processors that supply supermarkets.

He took particular aim at Coles and said the supermarket was forced to take part in the scheme when rival Woolworths signed up.

Agricultural Minister David Littleproud has slammed leading supermarkets , including Coles and Woolworths, over their milk levy.  Source: AAP
Agricultural Minister David Littleproud has slammed leading supermarkets over their milk levy. Source: AAP

“The result is a half-baked policy which only applies to Coles’ 3-litre variety of their own milk brand – and may not even go back to the farmers who supply that tiny portion of drinking milk,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

But Coles hit back at the comments.

“It is disappointing that the minister has chosen to criticise Coles – which has already committed over $12 million for drought relief – before becoming familiar with the facts,” a spokesman said.

The company also appointed PwC as an independent auditor to oversee the application administration process and verify funds have been allocated to the farmers as promised, according to the spokesman.

Littlejohn said supermarkets should place the levy on all brands of milk. Source: AAP
Littlejohn said supermarkets should place the levy on all brands of milk. Source: AAP

The agriculture minister also took Woolworths and Aldi to task.

Woolworths has only been applying the levy to their own $1 milk and Aldi has refused to look at a levy at all, he said.

In September, dairy farmers called for a 10-cent-a-litre levy on all milk sales to help farmers battling drought.

Woolworths and Aldi have yet to respond to the comments.

In August dairy farmer Shane Hickey went viral for his emotional address to supermarkets over their perceived lack of action to help out the struggling industry.

Leading supermarkets however pointed towards an ACCC report which found there was no link in a rise in shelf price and the figure farmers received.

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