The Shooters Fishers and Farmers (SFF) Party is taking aim at Coles, telling the supermarket giant to “pay our farmers or risk losing them”.
NSW Farmers claim a number of the association’s suppliers recently received letters from the retail chain, asking them to cut costs rather than seek price rises for their produce.
This action prompted a heated response from SFF leader Robert Borsak, who believes the request will propel the state into a food security crisis at a time when most families were “doing it tough”.
“Coles has a responsibility to match production costs,” he said.
“Telling farmers to ‘cut costs’ is beyond condescending and risks them dropping out of the market altogether, which puts our food security at risk.
“Severe weather conditions, COVID-19 and the Russian and Ukrainian war are pushing up production costs for farmers and wiping out crops.
“They are fighting to keep up with all the rising prices as it is.
“But, with the four main inputs – fertiliser, chemicals and diesel at record high levels and a shortage in labour, it is becoming a fight they cannot win.
“Being told to tighten their belts is the last thing farmers need to hear.
“When costs for Australian fertiliser imports rose by 128% from $380/tonne to $867/tonne, farmers have no choice but to pass that cost on.
“Coles should be more supportive of their suppliers, understanding in these times that as an oligopoly player, they have excessive market power.
“They made $1.9 billion before interest and tax in the 2022 fiscal year.
“So, Coles has no excuse but to pay farmers what their products are worth or risk losing them.”
A spokesperson admitted the company was working with its suppliers to “navigate the challenges associated with inflation to ensure we are helping Australians with cost-of-living pressures while being fair and mindful of the impacts facing our suppliers”.
“Over the past few months, the number of requests we’ve received for price increases have risen significantly,” they said.
“Coles has dedicated additional resources to ensure we’re dealing with them in a fair and timely manner and in accordance with the Grocery Code, being mindful of both the impacts to our suppliers and our customers.
“When it comes to natural disasters, our fresh produce teams are absolutely committed to supporting our suppliers on the ground.
“We’ve worked closely with farmers and growers to help their businesses recover after devastating events such as the floods.”
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