IF you have spare milk crates lying around, now is the time to give them back, according to Dairy Farmers.
The collective yesterday launched a program to recover 'missing' crates under the slogan "give our farmers a break and bring back a crate".
Dairy Farmers group external affairs manager Stuart Silver says 2000 milk crates are lost each day in Australia, mostly used by people as storage containers.
Each crate costs Dairy Farmers $4, which equates to $3 million annually.
"People think one crate won't make a difference, but it all adds up," Mr Silver said.
"It [the cost] works out to about $5000 a year for each farm ... given the drought conditions, it's money farmers can certainly do with."
The program is aimed at the return of stolen milk crates and raising awareness so that fewer crates are taken in the future.
Mr Silver said he was not concerned about any guilty feelings a person might have when returning the crates.
"Sure, some will feel guilty but that's too bad ... we're not apologising about this," he said.
"There is a cost involved, why should farmers pay for it?
"We're not going to be heavy-handed about it and launch law suits, we just want to educate people in a community-minded spirit."
A toll-free number has been set up to report milk crates gone astray: 1800 883 534.
Dairy Farmers will collect the crates.