WA's peak farm lobby group will launch its own milk brand in a history-making deal with supermarket giant Coles and multinational dairy processor Parmalat.
Milk carrying the WAFarmers brand will start appearing in Coles stores in WA in November. Sales royalties will be used to support all farming in the State.
WAFarmers, which boasts about 4000 members, will try to extend the commercialisation of its brand to other produce if the dairy move is a success.
President Dale Park said the deal was a major breakthrough for the 102-year-old organisation and all farmers in WA.
"It is an opportunity for agriculture to get on the front-foot," Mr Park said yesterday. "We want to do things for the industry that no one else is going to do, and that we have never had the funds to do, including market development."
Coles will pay a royalty for milk processed by Parmalat-owned Harvey Fresh and marketed under the WAFarmers brand.
It is similar to a deal between the South Australian Dairyfarmers' Association, Coles and Parmalat, which sees 20Â¢ from every litre of milk sold go towards improving the viability of the local industry. The WAFarmers brand is expected to retail for about $1.50 a litre, in line with the South Australian pricing.
The deal will not have a direct impact on farm gate milk prices, which are improving amid a fall in production in WA.
Mr Park said the benefits would flow across all sectors of the industry in WA, not just dairy. He urged consumers to back a sustainable, internationally competitive and high quality industry by buying the brand.
"We hope we can take the brand beyond dairy to quite a few products but we have to make a success of this first," he said. "There is also a big opportunity to open up new markets and use WAFarmers as an indicator of clean and green produce because that is how China especially sees us."
The deal comes less than three years after the WAFarmers dairy division called for a boycott of all Wesfarmers-owned businesses over the Coles $1-a-litre pricing policy on home brand milk.
Coles managing director John Durkan said the supermarket chain had built a strong and open relationship with WAFarmers.
"We are happy to support Dale and the team at WAFarmers," he said. "It is a great initiative from them in terms of coming to us with a farming brand that they want to launch."
Harvey Fresh general manager Paul Lorimer said it was an exciting development for consumers looking to support local farmers.
"This is a true innovation for the local market and will have a direct benefit for WA agriculture," he said.
Cash-strapped WAFarmers, which recently moved into new offices in Guildford, has appointed former Bankwest rural development manager Stephen Brown as its chief executive.