NONE of the 40c a litre that Coles’ customers paid on two-litre bottles of Farmers’ Fund milk over the past six months has been passed on to dairy farmers.
The Victorian Farmers Federation is under a contract with Coles supermarkets to distribute the funds every quarter to southeast Australia’s dairy farmers to help them invest in productivity improvements and business skills.
VFF president David Jochinke said the last two quarters of grant funding, about $500,000, would now be merged into one round, which would open to farmers from May 1.
“We didn’t run the previous quarter, as we’ve had a lot of churn at the VFF and didn’t have a CEO,” Mr Jochinke said.
A Coles spokeswoman said it was the VFF’s responsibility to roll out the funding, not Coles.
Meanwhile the VFF finally lodged the 2017 financials for the fund on Monday, after The Weekly Times pointed out last week that they were overdue.
The financials for the fund, which operates under the company name Farmconnect Ltd, show it collected $1.867 million in donations.
Given Coles made an initial donation to the fund of $1 million, the remaining $867,291 represents revenue on the sale of about 4.3 million litres of milk.
While the amount is well short of the expected $1.5 million to $2 million in annual donations on the milk sales, it still represents a hefty contribution to the state’s dairy industry.
The South Australian Dairyfarmers Association’s own-brand equivalent, SADA milk, earned it $528,774 in 2016-17, most of which was spent on running the organisation. In contrast the VFF spent just $51,026 of donations on managing the Farmers Fund, handing out $1.67 million as ”payments to suppliers” in the 12 months to September last year, most of which was grants to dairy farmers.
The VFF-owned Farmers’ Fund milk hit Coles supermarket shelves in September 2016 after a launch that was repeatedly leaked to the media then delayed as Murray Goulburn struggled to roll the first bottles off its processing line.
The fund provides grants of up to $10,000 to invest in productivity improvements and business skills.
By: PETER HUNT
Source: The Weekly Times