Picton dairy farmer fights for better milk price

Would you pay 10 cents more for milk if it meant Wollondilly farmers could stay in business?

Picton’s dairy farmer John Fairley has challenged all supermarkets and processors to increase the price of milk and asked consumers to accept the change.

The drought-stricken owner of Country Valley is now charging his stockist an extra 10 cents a litre for milk.

The extra venue generated will be passed onto the five farmers who supply him with milk.

That will mean the farmers, including Glenmore’s Gavin Moore, will receive an additional 10.5 per cent price for the raw milk they produce.

“This is not just a drought-relief levy,” Mr Fairley said. “This is a permanent price rise.

“Farmers have gone into extraordinary debts to get through the drought and we are not out of it yet.

“Supermarkets and people need to pay a real price for food.

“My farmers need this price increase to remain viable.

“I’m calling on Coles, Woolworths, ALDI, IGA, COSTCO, every corner store – all retailers of milk – to put up the price of milk.

“Instead of people paying $1 for milk, consumers will pay $1.10. A family usually goes through three litres of milk a week.

“It is only a 60 cent increase but it will mean people can continue to drink fresh milk.”

Mr Fairley’s challenge has the support of Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud.

The Minister has encouraged everyone calling for action on the drought to actually do something about it.

“All those who are outraged on social media would do more for Aussie farmers by paying a ten cent levy than they do by sharing a video on Facebook,” he said.

“If retailers get to a point where they support a ten cent levy on each litre of milk to go directly to farmers, I am happy to try and help to facilitate it as a temporary measure while structural reform happens in the industry.

“I support the principle of a temporary levy.

“Many of our farmers are being paid less than the cost of production. This is unsustainable.

“If our farmers don't make it through the tough times, they won't be there to supply Australia milk in the future.”

Dairy farmer Gavin Moore has welcomed the Country Valley 10 cent per litre price increase. Picture: Simon Bennett

Dairy farmer Gavin Moore has welcomed the Country Valley 10 cent per litre price increase. Picture: Simon Bennett

Glenmore dairy farmer Gavin Moore said he “absolutely welcomed” the price increase and hoped it would be permanent, not just until the drought breaks.

“The costs of production have skyrocketed,” he said. “Our feed supplier has raised the price by 3.6 cents so that is already a third of the 10 cents gone.”

Mr Moore has called on processors and supermarkets to increase the price.

“There needs to be a whole sector approach to giving farmers a fair price for the milk,” he said.

“The public and media are now aware of the issues dairy farmers are facing.

“It is now or never – we need to resolve the price issue so we can move forward.”

Mr Fairley and Mr Moore are not alone in their push to increase the price of milk.

A dairy farmer in Milton, a town on the South Coast, erected giant signs on the highway saying ‘farmers deserve better’ and ‘Coles, profiteering during drought’.

Consumers are willing to pay more for bottled water than they are for milk and Mr Fairley believes that needs to change.

“We need supermarkets to be leaders and to say ‘we value our farmers’,” the sixth generation farmer said.

A South Coast diary farmer has made his message loud and clear.

A South Coast diary farmer has made his message loud and clear.

Mr Littleproud said he had met with Coles and Woolworths and the latter had shown leadership on the issue.

“They say they’re on board so long as other retailers are too,” he said.

“Coles is more reluctant but I hope they'll come on board. I intend to speak to ALDI and IGA/Metcash as well.

“​Woolworths and Coles are sensitive to the impact of 10 cents extra per litre of milk on family budgets, and I am too.

“Consumers have huge power here.”

Mr Littleproud said his department was investigating ways to implement a temporary levy.

Mr Fairley said consumers had been largely supportive of his decision to put up the price of Country Valley milk and he had not received any negative feedback from stockists since making the change in July 1.

“The majority of people said they are willing to pay the 10 cents more,” he said.