Coles under siege the choice is yours and the choice is now

I have been moved by the number of farmers from other industries and members of the community who have very vocally come out in support of Australian dairy farmers. Today’s blog post highlights the diversity of these people and shares why they are so passionate.

Firstly Queensland school teacher Lisa Claessen who publishes her own blog Telling Tales has launched this petition to get Coles to rethink the decimation they are raining down on the dairy industry through the milk price wars. Please read it and share it with your friends and most importantly sign it. You can find Lisa’s petition here

Lisa Claessen

QLD schoolteacher Lisa Claessen goes in to bat for Aussie Farmers

Secondly these thoughts from South Australian grain farmer and wheat trader Corey Blacksell


We are all in this together says grain farmer Corey Blacksell

Being a grain farmer in a predominantly export orientated State; one might wonder why I have been so vocal in my support of dairy farmers.

Our property is located 295kms, by road, from the Port of Adelaide. We are predominantly grain growers, but also have a small flock of merino ewes that produce a first cross lamb, annually. We spread these operations across our 4640ha property. We began farming in our own right on July 1st, 2008.

So why does that mean I should be vocal in my support of the dairy industry? Apart from being fellow farmers, there are far deeper economic and principled reasons for my support of the dairy industry.

Firstly, I put my farmer hat on. As a grain producer in the predominantly export supply chain that is South Australian grain, it is my aim to remove myself from that supply chain. Having built on farm storage there is no point in participating in the export supply chain. In excess of $80 tonne ($40 freight and $40 storage and handling) are removed to form my farm gate price. Located on the SA/Vic border I aim to access the Victorian domestic market, a market that’s in equilibrium for supply and demand in an average season.

Dairy makes up approx 50 per cent of the cattle that consume feed grain in Australia, consuming around 1.5 tonne per head per year according to Dairy Australia. There are 1.6 million dairy cows in Australia (2010/11). This equates to approximately 2.4 million tonne of feed grain per year Australian dairy cows consume. The value adding of grain, into protein, creates a domestic demand for my grain and leaves the dollars in Australia and this is a win win for my family and my community.

Secondly, I put my consumer hat on. The permanent discounting of fresh food, by the supermarkets, is placing at risk the supply of Australian grown food, food that is universally accepted as being of the highest quality and integrity; food that the shopper can buy with confidence.

In an age when prices only go up, I ask myself how it is fresh food prices are coming “down down”. Who is paying for this deflation? Further to that, who will pay for this in the future?

The future may not be higher prices, but lower quality for the same price. Cheap food today will not create cheap food in the future. Cheap food will mean imported food, from countries with standards lower than our own. No one can demand a consumer pays for quality, but consumers must have the option. The risk is this option will be removed by the duopoly. That’s right, you will be given what Coles and Woolworths decide they want to sell you. They will want to sell you the things that make them the most margin.

“How can this be” you ask. Easily, it’s happening now and no one is even aware of it. The best eating and tasting fruit and veg do not make it to the shelf. Only the fruit and veg that creates the best value for the seller makes the shelf. One dollar milk is another example of best price, and not best quality.

Australian consumers now have a clear choice; cheap food leading to imported food of questionable quality and integrity or Australian produced high quality food.

The choice is that stark.

Perhaps a quote from The Conversation regarding the car industry can give us an insight into the future of Australian food production, minus the subsidies. You exchange manufacturing for agriculture!

If Australians want an auto industry, they must be prepared to pay for it – as ever – through the tax system. If they don’t, then they must also shoulder the consequences: a depleted skills base; a hollowed-out manufacturing sector; major job losses in every Australian state; and the decimation of a large number of regional and urban towns.”

It’s our choice now.

This great animation from the Hungry Beast opens the lid and exposes how Woolies and Coles are taking over OZ in leaps and bounds

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

4 thoughts on “Coles under siege the choice is yours and the choice is now”

  1. Dear Lynne and others

    It is critical that farmers encourage their friends and family to boycott Coles. As the 42 leading scientists noted last year – Coles policies are bad for people, bad for animals and bad for the environment. They appear to have a deliberate strategy to weaken agriculture.

    Milk: There are now many reports that cannot be denied of renegotiated contracts for milk at prices well below the costs of production. These prices are causing sales of properties. Many cows have been sold for slaughter. Farmers are cutting back on expenditure and discretionary areas such as additional land care and marginal animal health decisions are among areas cut.

    Beef: The impact of the hormone ban has not been reflected in pricing appropriate to loss of income – the efficiency loss is significant, as is the environmental cost.

    Pigs: Decisions around sow housing are greatly reducing efficiencies, leading to piglet loss, sow and gilt injury and increased abortions. Producers are not being compensated for these losses.

    Activism dressed up as animal care is the most dangerous of activities, because animals suffer. It is likely that Coles will maintain an activist stance in trying to differentiate itself from rivals. Unfortunately farmers, animals and the environment are the ‘collateral damage’

    Similar strategies so severely damaged UK agriculture that the UK went from a net exporter to net importer of food. The EU is reconsidering many of the poor decisions made in the past under activist pressure – it is critical that Australia avoid the same pressure from well-meaning, but poorly informed activists or, more dangerously, opportunists in positions of power such as Coles.

    The only effective answer is to boycott – Coles, Coles petrol, Target, and other associated entities.


    Ian J Lean BVSc, PhD, DVSc, MANZCVS

  2. Thank you Lynne for highlighting this petition. I have quite a few major concerns that have driven me to take action.
    If consumers believe that buying generic milk is a good deal for them, they are being enticed by a supermarket monopoly agenda here. To get you in the door of the competing major players, you are being manipulated by having cheap goods flashed in front of your eyes. Most of us love some sort of bargain in these uncertain times when we don’t perhaps feel good about the economy, etc.
    Fresh Australian milk was chosen as a ‘drawcard’ ,and what is normally an inelastic product( ie. the demand for milk is usually usually remains constant), was introduced as a cheap product to us all.
    Trouble is,as market share of cheap milk overtook any more expensive products, such as branded milks, specialty milks, the dairy supply chain, of processors and ultimately farmers, have felt the downward pressure to supply milk at extremely cheap prices. If the supermarkets, who then become the major suppliers, force price reductions to all along the chain, then it has to go somewhere.
    Seems okay for the consumer – so what? The ‘what’ is unfortunately often a price offered to the dairy farmer that becomes unsustainable for him/her to operate sustainably. We are seeing this now….
    Less dairy farmers means less ability to supply the ready demand for our beautiful fresh milk, and the destruction of infrastructure that just can’t be switched on easily.
    As our population increases and we demand more milk, where is it going to come from? In ten years alone, our population will increase by at least twenty five percent. How will we find this milk for future generations?
    I urge consumers to think beyond the lure of milk at $1.00 a litre. I want Coles to see how disgraceful this all is and I strongly believe in collective people power. The poor old golden goose has not been assassinated yet. Thoughtful purchasing will go a long way to save her!
    Please consider your choices carefully …they may not actually in your own long term interest.
    Lisa Claessen

  3. Great piece, as.a farmer in the US, I would like to see a true value placed upon the farmer and his or her work.

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