COLES HAS begun distributing more than $ 3.9 million from the Coles Dairy Drought Relief Fund to assist almost 640 Australian dairy farmers impacted by drought.
Coles customers contributed a total of $ 3 974 292.30 to the fund by paying an extra 30 cents on the price of each bottle of Coles 3L Own Brand milk sold between September 21 and December 31.
The Coles Dairy Drought Relief Fund was established to assist dairy farmers affected by drought, regardless of their location or the processor that buys their milk.
Coles chief operating officer Greg Davis thanked customers for their overwhelming support of Australian dairy farmers, who supply 100 per cent of Coles Own Brand fresh milk.
‘‘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,’’ Mr 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.’’
All 639 eligible applicants to the Coles Dairy Drought Relief Fund from across Australia will receive an equal share of the total amount raised.
Coles is not the only supermarket giving back to farmers, with Woolworths doing the same.
Woolworths Drought Relief Milk has now provided $4.5 million in relief payments to more than 285 drought-affected dairy farmers across NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
It comes as Woolworths continues to sell Drought Relief Milk on the eastern seaboard while it works with the dairy industry on longer-term reform measures.
Woolworths fresh food director Paul Harker said it was clear the effects of drought remained significant for dairy farmers.
‘‘The drought is far from over and neither is our drought relief milk effort,’’ Mr Harker said.
‘‘The fourth monthly payment was distributed to dairy farmers last month 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.’’
Dairy Connect chief executive officer and NSW Drought Relief Committee member Shaughn Morgan said the extension was vital.
‘‘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,’’ Mr Morgan said.
‘‘While many producers have welcomed recent rain storms, the impact of drought persists as dairy farming families and communities move into the new year.’’