Coles distributes $3.9mil in drought relief to dairy farmers

Coles milkSupermarket giant Coles has begun distributing more than A$3.9 million in funding to Australian dairy farmers following the supermarket’s successful Dairy Drought Relief Fund efforts.

Coles customers contributed a total of A$3,974,292.30 to the fund by paying an extra 30 cents on Coles 3 Litre Own Brand milk, sold between September 21 and December 31, 2018.

A total of 639 eligible applicants to the relief fund will receive an equal share of the total amount raised.

“Coles is proud to support the Australian dairy industry and we were delighted to see customers get behind this initiative, knowing the additional 30 cents from every bottle of Coles’ 3L Own Brand milk they bought would end up in the pocket of an Aussie dairy farmer,” Coles chief operating officer Greg Davis said.

“This money will provide critical financial support to dairy farmers to assist with feed and water costs for their cattle, farm improvements and even meeting household expenses.”

The Coles Dairy Drought Relief Fund brings the total amount of money contributed by Coles and its customers to drought-affected farmers to more than A$16 million. This includes a contribution of A$7.1 million to the Country Women’s Association (CWA) Drought Relief Fund, made up of A$3.55 million in customer donations.

The CWA has already distributed grants to more than 1,900 drought-affected farmers in the country. Coles has pledged A$5 million in grants or interest-free loans from the Coles Nurture Fund for farmers who have a project to help them deal with drought in the future.

Rival supermarket Woolworths also announced it is donating A$4.5 million to over 285 drought-affected dairy farmers across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. It continues to sell Drought Relief Milk on the eastern seaboard while it working with the dairy industry on longer-term reform measures.

“The drought is far from over and neither is our drought relief milk effort. The fourth monthly payment was distributed to dairy farmers last week and more relief is on the way. We want to find a pathway to a more sustainable dairy industry over the long term and will continue to engage closely with industry to this end over the coming months,” Woolworths Fresh Food director Paul Harker said.

“We’re grateful Woolworths has listened to Dairy Connect’s representations on behalf of dairy producers and extended the sale of their drought relief milk range. While many producers have welcomed recent rain storms, the impact of drought persists as dairy farming families and communities move into the New Year,” Dairy Connect CEO and New South Wales Drought Relief Committee member Shaughn Morgan said.

While Premium Milk Limited chairman and Queensland Drought Relief Committee member Peter Jervis said it was welcome news for the 150 Queensland dairy farmers he represents.

“We’re appreciative of the manner in which Woolworths took the initiative to introduce the Drought Relief Milk and also the speed in which the funds have been made available to the drought-stricken farmers. We applaud Woolworths for listening to our calls and extending the range,” Jervis said.

The Drought Relief Milk limited-edition range includes Woolworths Full Cream and Woolworths Lite Milk varieties at A$2.20 for two litres and A$3.30 for three litres. The extra 10 cents for each litre of milk is donated to drought-affected dairy farmers.

The distribution of funds is overseen by the Drought Relief Committee, which includes Premium Milk Limited chairman Peter Jervis, Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan, Parmalat general manager – Supply Chain Vince Houlihan and an independent auditor from KPMG.

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