HELPING FARMERS: Dairy farmer and Fraser Coast councillor James Hansen with member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien and Woolworths' director of fresh food Paul Harker with the milk that is no longer $1 a litre.
HELPING FARMERS: Dairy farmer and Fraser Coast councillor James Hansen with member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien and Woolworths' director of fresh food Paul Harker with the milk that is no longer $1 a litre. Carlie Walker

10 cents set to make big difference to dairy farmers

IT MAY be just 10 extra cents a litre, but it's making a huge difference in the lives of the region's dairy farmers.

Yesterday, member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien met with representatives from Woolworths at the Maryborough supermarket and dairy farmer James Hansen to talk about the company's decision to end the milk wars by moving away from selling the pantry staple for $1 a litre.

Mr Hansen, who is also a Fraser Coast councillor, said the past seven or eight years had been tough for the industry.

He said the price war had put financial pressure on farmers.

"The $1 a litre milk sent a really bad message to dairy farmers and their families," Mr Hansen said.

"It doesn't mean a lot for people out there in consumerland.

"Ten cents a litre doesn't really hurt their bottom line at all, but 10 cents a litre to us means a hell of a lot."

The next challenge was bringing pressure on other retailers, such as Coles and Aldi, to increase their prices, Mr O'Brien said. He said Woolworths had shown a social conscience by increasing the price.

"They've been the first to break away from the $1 a litre milk model," he said.

Mr O'Brien said the small price increase for consumers was a big increase for dairy farmers.

Paul Harker, Woolworths' director of fresh food, said the 10 cents meant a lot to the dairy farmers who supplied the supermarket, with some telling him they had been able to hold onto their farms thanks to the increase.

About 450 dairy farmers were part of Woolworths' chain of supply nationally, including 150 in Queensland.

Mr Harker said about $6 million had been raised from the supermarket's drought relief milk and that would go directly back to farmers across the country.



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