Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says he isn't falling for the froth from Woolworths on World Milk Day and instead has blasted the big supermarket's commitment to extend a 10 cent a litre retail levy payment to farmers for another year.
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MILK PRODUCTION: Milk production is expected to recover in Australia on the back of better seasonal conditions but not for at least two years, according to ABARES.

He described it as a “tokenistic gimmick duping consumers into thinking dairy farmers are getting genuine help from the supermarket”.

The extra $30 million Woolies was expecting to raise for farmers with its 10c retail levy was far from adequate – it should be paying them closer to $120m.

“It is utterly disrespectful of Woolworths to try to capitalise on World Milk Day with this pitiful offering,” he said.

“All they are doing is creating a corporate feel-good fund to promote their own brand.

“This is just a tokenistic smoke screen.”

Woolworths should stop holding back an extra $90m in value from the Australian dairy supply chain and claiming to be dairy’s saviour with $5m dollars of grants which farmers need to grovel for.

“The supermarkets aren’t listening to me or dairy farmers when we are clearly saying they need to restore the value they stripped from the dairy industry with $1 a litre milk,” he said.

They don’t particularly care about the future of the dairy industry in supplying and being able to continue to supply Australian dairy to their consumers
– David Littleproud, Agriculture Minister

He told also West Australian ABC radio, both Woolworths and its retail rival Coles were perpetrators of dollar milk which devalued the dairy industry for almost a decade until the price lifted to $1.10 last year as drought sent herd management costs exploding and milk production output shrank dramatically.

“They have learnt nothing and they don’t particularly care about the future of the dairy industry in supplying and being able to continue to supply Australian dairy to their consumers,” he said.

A strong case had been put forward by the Australian Dairy Farmers to increase the retail price of milk to about $1.50 and pass that increase back to dairy farmers via their processors was not being addressed by supermarkets.

Dairy farmers did not want charity, or to rely on grants, they wanted milk to be worth a fair price.

“That’s what the supermarkets have a significant role in playing to achieve but they don’t seem to get it,” he said.

“I had mature conversations with them about having an opportunity to lead, and lead processors into a mature conversation about what farmers’ costs of productions were and signalling that through their price.

“Woolworths must stop hiding behind the fear of moving first in the market and stump up.”

On Monday, protesting farmers squatted on rail tracks at several places across the country but especially in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and some parts of Uttar Pradesh blocking traffic.

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