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Supermarkets ‘need to be accountable’ over milk levy for drought-affected farmers: Neil Mitchell

3AW Mornings

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has taken aim at Coles and Aldi over the across-the-board milk levy to help drought affected farmers across the country.

Neil Mitchell said while it may have started with the best of intentions, the supermarkets need to be accountable to the public and detail where the money goes.

Both Coles and Woolworths initally announced a temporary 10-cent levy on some of their ranges, after lobbying and pressure from farmers.

Mr Littleproud said German-owned supermarket chain Aldi had done “bugger-all” to help the struggling dairy industry.

Neil questioned if customers can be sure every dollar collected from the levies ends up in the hands of struggling farmers.

“I’ve been cynical about it. I’ve been rattling on about it for weeks.” – Neil

Woolworths have confirmed to 3AW Mornings the first payments have gone out to 280 dairy farmers in Queensland, New South Wales and northern Victoria.

In a statement to the program, Coles says 100 per cent of the money they raise through their temporary milk levy will go to farmers, but wouldn’t say when the payments would begin.

Mr Littleproud said he believed the money collected from the levy at Woolworths had “ended up at the farm gate”.

Neil: Do you trust the supermarkets?

Mr Littleproud: Candidly no. I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I spoke to them a month and a half ago, when we got the consensus from the ACCC report and I’m starting work to get that implemented, around a mandatory conduct.

I asked them to work with me to allow me the time to get that in place. Woolwoorths said yes we will come on the journey straightaway. Coles panicked and did a half-baked job on 10 cents on three litre milk. Aldi have done three parts of bugger all.

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