If the supermarkets won’t help, we need the Government to implement a drought levy.
In modern society, we all suffer from information overload. According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced every day. So we can forgive the average person for their seemingly short attention span.
It is hard for people living in the currently grey and rainy coastal regions of Queensland and NSW to believe that we are still in drought. Meteorological drought is rarely broken in a single event or month; typically regular rainfall over a period of several months is required to remove rainfall deficiencies of the magnitude of those now in place.
But the politicians who supported drought relief efforts two months ago need to take concrete action, not just sympathise.
Unfortunately for our farmers, the cost of feed and freight and general production costs are still too high and will stay that way for months. It is not as if the small amount of rain has solved our problems. If anything, it has masked the magnitude of the issues we face.
It was eight weeks ago that QDO called for the supermarkets to raise the 10 cent/litre drought levy. This was not a marketing stunt, though Coles and Woolworths have certainly made it into one. This levy was a real plea to the supermarkets and to the Australian public to help those dairy farmers affected by the drought.
In every media statement put out by Coles since we called for the levy, the supermarket has quoted that it is already doing its bit with its $12 million Drought Relief program. According to the National Farmers Federation, Australia has 85,681 farms. While some farms are not in drought declared areas, I would guess that at a minimum 25 per cent of all farms are being affected by the drought due to the costs of feed and irrigation.
Taking that number and divvying up the Coles fund, each drought affected farm would receive $560 – an embarrassingly small amount and a token gesture.
Recent calls for a Royal Commission into the predatory practices of the supermarket are welcome and we ask that this is pushed through. But we have to ask how many farms will go under by the time a commission is done?
While QDO never wanted an official “levy” imposed by the federal government, the situation is now at a point where Minister Littleproud needs to consider it seriously.