Milk levy positive but dairy farmer says more is needed
COLES and Woolworths last week announced they would be implementing a 10 cents a litre levy on certain milk products to support the struggling dairy industry.
The move had overwhelming support from consumers, but some dairy farmers are hesitant about whether it will produce any meaningful change.
Clarendon dairy farmer Errol Gerber said while it was better than nothing, it wasn't a magic bullet.
"It is a positive step in the sense that they've come on-board with that, but I see it as not being genuine," Mr Gerber said.
I'm a bit cynical about it - I think it's just a publicity stunt, because they're only putting it on some milk products.
"The part that really irks me is that Coles has said that they're going to not put the funds directly to farmers but they're going to put it through the NFF (National Farmers Federation)."
Both Coles and Woolworths will raise the prices on their 3 litre own brand milks from $3 to $3.30.
Mr Gerber said this wouldn't be enough and the levy should be extended.
"If 10 cents a litre was across all white milk products, it would make a difference but unfortunately it's going to be on such a small range," he said.
He said the issues facing the dairy industry all came back to the supermarkets' milk price wars.
"The farm gate pricing of milk here in Queensland is unsustainable, and that's due to the dollar a litre milk holding down all other milk companies' prices going forward," he said.
"The extreme pressure that the retailers put on processors, and that mainly being the artificially low price that we have with the dollar-a-litre milk, effects all milk products going forward.
"It's keeping an artificial ceiling on the price, and it doesn't allow the proper mechanisms in the market place to dictate - it has completely skewed the market."
Mr Gerber said more needed to be done to help the struggling industry.
"There needs to be some clear changes in the marketing of dairy products in Australia," he said.
I would love to see some sort of regulation back, but unfortunately we're not going to see that.
The Lockyer Valley and Somerset regions were overwhelmingly in favour of the price increases, with a Gatton Star reader poll finding more than 92 per cent of readers supported the levy.
Mr Gerber said the success of the recent campaign to introduce the levy showed that the supermarkets listened when consumers voiced their opinions, and that shoppers needed to do more.
"I think there needs to be more pressure on from the consumer end, it's the only way we're going to get it," he said.
Mr Gerber encouraged consumers to keep fighting for their dairy farmers, and said if they told supermarkets what they wanted, Coles and Woolworths would follow suit.
"What the consumer needs to be doing is saying to the retailers 'we want it across all products' - that pressure needs to come from the consumer," he said.