Dairy farmers in Australia are set to benefit from a new fund set up to aid those hit by cuts in milk prices.
The Farmers’ Fund scheme has been launched by the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), which represents over 10,000 members who live and work on more than 6,000 farm businesses situated across Victoria. Money for the fund will be raised through selling a new brand of milk, Farmers’ Fund milk.
The brand is being produced under license from the VFF by supermarket Coles and dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn, which has a contract with the retailer. A$2.50 two-litre containers are available to purchase in most Coles supermarkets across Victoria, with 40 cents per unit going to the Farmers’ Fund. Dairy farmers can apply to fund for grants of up to A$20,000, with the first round being distributed by mid-October.
According to Dairy Australia, customer boycotts have led to a drop in share for Coles’ private label’s market from 65% to 50%. The retailer has maintained milk prices at A$1 a litre since 2011.
Earlier in the year, Murray Goulburn, which processes a third of Australia’s milk, cut the prices it paid farmers from A$6.05 per kilogram in July 2015 to A$4.75 and A$5.00 per kilogram in April 2016. The global oversupply also led to lower prices, and Murray Goulburn’s profit fell by a third in 2016 to A$10m.
Commenting on the new milk brand, VFF president, David Jochinke, said: “Many people have asked what they can do to help dairy farmers. If they are not already buying branded milk, they can now buy Farmers’ Fund milk knowing that they are directly investing 40 cents straight into the Farmers’ Fund.
“Milk is our first product and is the start of something much greater. There is a great opportunity for a farmer advocacy group like VFF to leverage the Farmers’ Fund brand to share with consumers the challenges farmers face and show how to support them all year round, not only in times of need.”
Corey Mitchell, a dairy farmer from Tennyson in northern Victoria, said: “The Farmers’ Fund makes it easy for everyone to show their support and demonstrate that they believe in the great quality product that dairy farmers work hard to produce. It is also good to see that VFF has simplified the application process to ensure successful applicants receive grants as quickly as possible.”
- This article was amended on 29 September. Farmers Fund milk is an initiative launched by the Victorian Farmers Federation and Coles, not Murray Goulburn as previously suggested.