Farmers speak out on their struggles with supermarkets

A fourth-generation cattle farmer has spoken publicly about the losses he has suffered at the hands of Australia's supermarket duopoly, claiming his income last year was slashed by $80,000.

It was announced last week that Coles and Woolworths will be investigated by the ACCC amid claims they employ bullying tactics to drive prices down. Fifty producers came forward, under the protection of anonymity, with evidence of misconduct by the supermarkets.

Brian Wilson, a cattle farmer near Tamworth, told SMH many farmers have been forced to sell their product at a loss, and the $1 milk offering which both supermarkets boast has had a terrible impact on his livelihood.

"The last financial year, we were probably down $80,000 on our milk income,'' he said. ''The processors can't talk with each other to keep their prices up, so it becomes very cutthroat … They get the contract but it's good news and bad news because they have to go so low to get it," he said.

The situation is so bad that in the past year, 30 farmers in NSW have left the dairy industry because of price cutting by the duopoly, said NSW Farmers Association chief executive, Matt Brand.

"The reality is supermarkets aren't going anywhere and neither is agriculture and we need to all be able to sit down and have a serious look at supply chain solutions," Brand told SMH.

Both supermarkets have agreed to co-operate with the ACCC investigation.


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