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Friday 21 December 2018: Woolworths will continue selling Drought Relief Milk on the eastern seaboard for up to six more months while it works with the dairy industry on longer-term reform measures.

Drought Relief Milk has proved popular with millions of Woolworths customers and provided $3.1 million in relief payments to more than 280 drought-affected dairy farmers across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria so far.

The feedback from dairy farmers has been positive, with the monthly relief payments helping to alleviate acute drought-related financial stress.

Dairy Connect CEO and New South Wales Drought Relief Committee member Shaughn Morgan welcomed the move.

“We’re grateful Woolworths has listened to Dairy Connect’s representations on behalf of dairy producers at this time of year and extended the sale of their drought relief milk range,” Mr Morgan said.

“The announcement is great Christmas news for dairy producers and dairy communities on the eastern seaboard who supply Woolworths with fresh nutritious milk via their processors such as Parmalat, who are to be congratulated.

“Our farmer members have used the Woolies’ drought relief funds during the past three or four months to underpin the cost of buying-in fodder for their cows. This has allowed some producers to slow the process of destocking that had been brought about by dwindling fodder supplies on dairy farms.
 
“While many producers have welcomed recent rain storms, the impact of drought persists as dairy farming families and communities move into Christmas and the New Year."

Premium Milk Limited Chairman and Queensland Drought Relief Committee member Peter Jervis said it was welcome news for the 150 Queensland dairy farmers he represents.

"We’re appreciative of the manner in which Woolworths took the initiative to introduce the Drought Relief Milk and also the speed in which the funds have been made available to the drought-stricken farmers," Mr Jervis said.

“Earlier this month we wrote to Woolworths asking them to extend the effort, given the ongoing impact of drought and high grain costs on our dairy farmers.

“We applaud Woolworths for listening to our calls and extending the range for a further six months."

Woolworths Fresh Food Director Paul Harker said it was clear the effects of drought remain significant for dairy farmers.

“Millions of our customers have chosen to support the Drought Relief Milk effort and we’re pleased it’s delivering much needed financial relief at the farmgate,” Mr Harker said.

“Having heard lots of positive feedback from dairy farmers in recent weeks, we felt it was important to provide certainty on the future of the effort before Christmas.

“At the same, we know it remains a short-term measure for drought.

“We want to find a pathway to a more sustainable dairy industry over the long term and will be engaging closely with industry to this end over the coming months.”

Woolworths’ Drought Relief Milk first hit the shelves in October 2018 and was always set to run through until at least January 2019.

The limited-edition range offers customers the option to buy Woolworths Full Cream and Woolworths Lite Milk varieties at $2.20 for two litres and $3.30 for three litres.

The extra 10 cents paid on each litre of milk is distributed in full to drought-affected dairy farmers.

The distribution of funds is overseen by the Drought Relief Committee, which includes Premium Milk Limited Chairman Peter Jervis, Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan, Parmalat General Manager - Supply Chain Vince Houlihan and an independent auditor from KPMG.

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