Coles should immediately reintroduce its drought milk levy payments to farmers and Aldi needs to “stop acting like a foreign company with no care”, says Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud.
He has urged consumers to “shop with their feet” and spend their money where it will do most for Australian farmers struggling with drought.
Mr Littleproud’s blast included a not-too subtle swing at the Coles supermarket group for “finally announcing” its $3.9m payment to farmers from its “very narrow” 10 cent a litre milk levy on three-litre bottle sales of house brand milk.
“Its half-hearted attempt did not include a proper payment process to make sure the farmers supplying the milk were paid per litre they supplied,” he said.
He criticised the retailer for not using the processor, which actually sourced the milk from farmers, to deliver the drought assistance money back to its milk suppliers in appropriate amounts.
The drought did not end on December 31 and neither should the levy,
Aldi’s inaction was even less impressive as it “continued to do exactly nothing for farmers”.
“Aldi has done bugger all for farmers in drought,” he said.
“Instead it wants the government to introduce a levy.”
Mr Littleproud said the big German should understand in Australia, good corporate citizens simply do the right thing – they don’t need government to impose it on them.
The other two big Australian retailers had at least tried.
However, he felt it disgraceful that Coles, having only announced a drought levy in September, had withdrawn the levy a few months later in December as drought conditions were intensifying.
"The drought did not end on December 31 and neither should the levy,” he said.
"Coles' customers want to help farmers and this just makes it harder.
“They should show their support for drought-hit communities by shopping somewhere else.
“Coles only introduced a drought payment because it had to follow Woolworths’ lead.
"It also made farmers jump through hoops to get this money and as a result many who are in need will miss out altogether.
“Coles and Aldi both need to show they give a damn about Aussie farmers.
“Woolworths isn’t perfect either but at least their levy is going to the farmers who supplied the milk and they show no sign of pulling it.”
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