A South Coast independent grocer's move to raise price on a brand of milk has paid dividends for local dairy farmers.
In September, Milton IGA opted to sell its two-litre Perfection milk for $2.19, up from $1 a litre, preferring to support farmers rather than matching loss leaders of supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths.
On Friday, February 22, Milton IGA co-owners Shane Wilson and Anthony Latta handed over almost $5,000, raised from their levy, to five Conjola and Milton dairy farmers.
Customers have paid 10 cents extra per litre, and the store has matched every cent.
Mr Wilson said the rebate system was implemented to supplement farmers' ongoing expenses. He was rapt customers had "come to the party" and supported their move.
"Our community is very caring, they know what plight the farmers are in, they know it’s a long struggle. We have had not one complaint," Mr Wilson said.
Milton IGA's move to end $1-a-litre milk at its store put the district in the national spotlight, dairy farmers Robert Miller and Carl Murray said.
"Anthony and Shane have been behind us all the way with IGA. They were one of the first in Australia to actually lift the price," Conjola's Carl Murray said.
Milton farmer Barney Anderson praised the support from the public.
"It’s awesome, the public support we’ve got, not just from these guys, but from everyone has been awesome. It’s just, the big retailers don’t seem to be getting it," he said.
Stony Hill farmer Robert Miller agreed with Mr Anderson's sentiments.
"Sometimes you think you’re out there by yourself but you realise that the consumers are really behind you. We’re a rural community and we’ve all got to work together to make it work," Mr Miller said.
Outlook in our region
While the land has dried off for now, Mr Anderson said his farm's short-term outlook is good.
"We’ve had a pretty good spring and summer. The problem with the industry at the moment is, in a good season we make ends meet, in a bad season we go backwards," he said.
Mr Murray said he was ready to plant his winter pasture, he just needs rainfall so he can sow.
"We’re ready to go now. Just waiting for some rain now, but we can’t put seed in the ground at the moment until we get some rain," he said.
"If we don’t get this rain shortly, our winter is probably not going to be so great. We might have some silage already banked up but we need rain to get our winter pastures growing."
Supermarket giant drops $1 a per litre milk
On Tuesday, February 19, Woolworths removed its $1 per litre fresh milk from sale, six months after Milton IGA first dropped the cheap option.
“This is great news and something we have been pushing for for seven years,” Mr Cochrane said.
“It is good our suppliers have decided to end the $1 a litre milk.
“It will hopefully mean more money coming back onto farms, lowering some of our running costs.”