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Skeptical Reaction To Coles Farmer’s Fund Milk In Australia
September 15, 2016

There’s been a sceptical reaction to Coles Farmer’s Fund milk, although dairy producers said the grants would be welcome.

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has opened applications for the fund, which aims to raise money through a guaranteed 40 cents from every two-litre bottle directed to on-farm projects.

Bamawm Murray Goulburn (MG) supplier Ann Gardiner said she thought the grants were positive, as they provided a potential source of cash to get farmers through the year.

“But if Coles was paying us a fairer price for milk, all the time, we wouldn’t be in this position,” Ms Gardiner said.

“I think it’s good public relations for Coles, I don’t think they give a damn about farmers, except how much they can rip us off by.”

She said she would be applying for one of the grants, of up to $20,000, which can be used for infrastructure, education or expert advice that helped build a more viable business.

Ms Gardiner said she would be looking for money to resow pastures, after winter, as well as repairs and maintenance and consultancy advice.

Mead dairy farmer Di Bowles said she would also be applying for a grant, although she said she did not support the concept behind it.

“It’s rubber stamping cheap milk,” Ms Bowles said.

“This is a levy, a levy is a levy, is a levy – call it what you like, but it is a levy.”

But she said as she believed farmers did need help and assistance, she was encouraging them to apply.

She said a significant number of applications might also show the need for support, other than the concessional loan scheme offered by the Federal government.

It was positive United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) was involved in the application process, although it appeared it was not fully supportive of the scheme.

“That concerns me, as they have the dairy industry’s best interests at heart, and it appears advice from the UDV is being ignored,” she said.

Ms Bowles said she would apply for a grant to upgrade the farm’s effluent system.

Portland farmer Jessa Fleming said she had applied for a grant to take out Cyprus hedges, on the farm, after 25 per cent of the farm’s dry cows were poisoned, as a result of eating the trees’ leaves.

“It’s not going to help everyone, but the money is there and we would be silly not to try and make the most of it,” Ms Fleming said.

But she said she found it “a little bit insulting” that Coles pushed cheap milk.

“The first million was put in by Coles, and I have no qualms about taking money from Coles, it’s a big corporation, they make plenty of money and have plenty of money.

“But they need to put some value back into milk and show some appreciation for farmers.”

The first round of grant applications closes on September 30.

By: Andrew Miller


Summer 2018