Dairy farmers hit by the recent floods have welcomed Woolworths’ move to increase the price of milk, urging others to follow suit.

Woolworths increased the price of its store brand milk to $1.35 for its one-litre bottles last week, with its two and three-litre bottles selling for $1.30 a litre. It’s been more than two years since the major supermarkets have lifted the price of home brand milk.

NSW Farmers Dairy Committee Chair Colin Thompson, who was one of the farmers hard-hit by recent flooding near Forbes, said Woolworths’ decision to increase the price of its store brand milk to $1.35 for its one-litre bottles last week was a step in the right direction.

 “Dollar-a-litre milk was smashing us, frankly, and even at $1.20 it was tight, but NSW Farmers has been a loud voice in calling for a little fairness in milk pricing,”

NSW Farmers Dairy Committee Chair Colin Thompson

 “This will give us a little more wiggle room as we clean up from these floods, and it’s something that I know will be welcomed right across the state.”

NSW Farmers Dairy Committee Chair Colin Thompson, pictured with wife Erina at the family farm near Cowra, is urging Coles and Aldi to follow the lead of Woolworths in increasing home brand milk prices.

Eyes on Coles and Aldi milk prices

 “I’m really hopeful now we’ll see a similar move from Coles and Aldi. NSW Farmers has been a strong advocate for the dairy sector in this space, because if we don’t pay farmers a fair price we could lose our dairy sector altogether,” says Mr Thompson.

 “This creates the opportunity for a branded product increase which would allow for an increase to flow back to the farmers. Our dairy farmers produce world-class milk enjoyed by Australians of all ages, and that’s who we’re working to protect.”

NSW Farmers Dairy Committee Chair Colin Thompson.

After a dairy market downturn lasting several years, the average milk price paid to Australian farmers has increased 13% between 2018 ($6.14/kgMS) and 2021 ($6.91/kgMS), according to Dairy Australia.

 “However, prices for farm inputs, such as fertiliser, water, fuel and energy, and a tight labour market, have increased costs in the same period, so any increase in profits passed back to dairy farmers is welcome,” said Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) President Rick Gladigau.

 “Increases in milk prices at the farmgate and in-store are needed to sustain production of an essential food.”

Keep an eye for a special report on the NSW dairy industry in the January/February edition of The Farmer magazine.

Paving the road forward for NSW Dairy

Dairy farmers will get the chance to hear NSW Farmer’s plans to strengthen and support the industry at a series of forums in the south coast region this week.

The NSW Farmers Dairy Industry Forum will bring local farmers together with Australian Dairy Farmers, NSW Department of Primary Industries Dairy Unit, Dairy Australia and Dairy NSW as the organisation prepares its dairy restructure.

“This is an exciting time for dairy farmers in NSW,” Mr Thompson said.

“During the NSW Dairy Action Plan consultation process, farmers called for a strengthened connection that delivers on the issues that impact upon them and their farm business, and that’s what we’re doing with our restructure.

“Our new Dairy Manager will be able to take concerns from farmers directly to the decision makers, marrying up the needs of farmers with the advocacy capability of NSW Farmers.”

The Woolworths milk price increase coincides with the NSW Farmers dairy section is hitting the road this week for a series of industry forums for dairy farmers

The NSW Farmers Dairy Committee secured the support of the NSW Farmers board in employing a full time, dedicated Dairy Manager to run the dairy section of NSW Farmers, with the goal of unifying dairy advocacy in NSW, to ensure a strong voice in state and national policy decisions.

Mr Thompson said this was a great opportunity to build upon past successes and help secure a sustainable dairy sector into the future.

“The NSW Farmers Dairy Committee has fought hard to address supply chain and competition problems in the industry, such as the implementation of the mandatory Dairy Code of Conduct and the creation of an ACCC inquiry into perishable agricultural goods,” Mr Thompson said.

“We are actively engaged in the development and roll out of the NSW Dairy Action Plan, regularly engaging with DPI, and we are working to de-risk dairy.

“I’m confident we can build upon recent wins such as coastal harvestable rights and deliver some great targeted outcomes for dairy farmers.”

The NSW Farmers Dairy Industry Forum will visit the north coast the following week, and visits to inland dairy areas will happen early in the New Year.

Dates and locations for the north coast forums are below. You can register here or for information, contact Jesse Doolan, Policy Advisor, Intensive Livestock at doolanj@nswfarmers.org.au

• Lismore- Tuesday December 14th @ 11am – 1pm (Casual lunch to follow from 1pm), Lismore Workers Club – 231 Keen Street, Lismore 

• Coffs Harbour- Wednesday December 15th @ 11am –1pm (Casual lunch to follow from 1pm), Pacific Bay Resort – Cnr Pacific Hwy and, Bay Dr, Coffs Harbour

• Kempsey- Wednesday December 15th @ 7pm – 9pm (Casual Dinner to be held prior from 6pm) Coastline Community Hubb – 26 Smith Street, Kempsey

• Taree- Thursday December 16th @ 11am – 1pm (Casual lunch to follow from 1pm), Taree Leagues Club – 43 Cowper St, Taree

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