Littleproud slams Woolworths over 10 cent levy

By Country News

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has slammed Woolworths, labelling its decision to extend the 10 cent levy on its home-brand milk a "tokenistic gimmick".

Woolworths made the announcement to extend the levy on two and three litre own-brand milk varieties until June, 2021, claiming the levy will contribute an extra $30 million to dairy farmers over the next 12 months.

“All they are doing is creating a corporate feel-good fund to promote their own brand,” Mr Littleproud said.

“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.”

A $5 million Woolworths fund will also provide infrastructure and technology grants to dairy farmers, to help improve on-farm efficiency and profitability over the next three years.

“Stop holding back the extra $90 million in value from the Australian dairy supply chain and claiming to be dairy’s saviour with $5 million dollars of grants that farmers need to grovel for,” Mr Littleproud said.

Australian Dairy Farmers and NSW Farmers both supported the levy extension, but said the price of generic milk brands needed to be raised to $1.50/litre to stop farm exits.

UDV president Paul Mumford said he wanted to see all farmers treated fairly across the system.

“I welcome any news in getting money back it into the dairy farmers’ pocket, however, we don’t believe the levy and how it’s collected is appropriate for our farmers,” he said.

“The levy they collect off their consumers only goes back to a very select group of farmers.

“This is the problem that the retailers have created and we're calling for it to be fixed.”