Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has taken aim at supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, labelling their drought-relief funds a “half-baked policy”.
Only weeks ago both supermarkets answered pleading calls from drought-affected dairy farmers across the country, agreeing to a 10 cent per litre levy on certain sizes of their own brand milk.
The price of a 3-litre carton of milk, which originally cost $3, was increased to $3.30 with 100 per cent of the increase going to dairy farmers who for months have been scraping by to make ends meet.
However, Littleproud has slammed Coles in particular, claiming the supermarket failed to stick with the original plan which would have seen the levy applied to all milk brands. He also reportedly expressed concern farmers wouldn’t see any of the promised money.
“I was initially prepared to give the benefit of the doubt but it hasn’t been followed up with good policy work – it’s an empty media stunt. The result is a half baked policy which only applies to Coles’ three-litre variety of their own milk brand,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports he said.
Coles, which was the second out of the two supermarkets to agree to the levy, hit back at the minister’s comments, highlighting just how much they have supported Aussie farmers to date.
“It is disappointing that the minister has chosen to criticise Coles – which has already committed over $12m for drought relief – before becoming familiar with the facts,” a Coles spokesperson told Fairfax Media.
Last month when the levy was first introduced, Coles also shared details of further support the supermarket has made over the years for those in need.
““Coles has always supported our Aussie farmers. We have an Australia First Sourcing Policy and all of our fresh milk is 100 per cent Australian,” a Coles spokesperson explained. “Coles for a number of year has sold a range of milk brands with a percentage of sales going to support dairy famers in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.”