VICTORIA’S peak farming body is opposing the Glenelg Shire Council’s plan to reduce its primary producer rebate resulting in local farmers paying thousands of dollars more in rates.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano warned the plan would see local farmers being the highest taxed in rural Victoria.
“Clearly this proposal has not been thought through.
“We estimate the average farm business will pay $10,000 additional rates over the next four years if the council agrees to the plan,” she said.
“This would leave Glenelg Shire farmers paying the highest rates amongst all rural councils in the state and would see the rate burden shifting even more on to agriculture with farmers going from paying 39 to 45 percent of the shire’s total rates.”
Under its recently released Draft Revenue and Rating Plan, Glenelg Shire has proposed to reduce the rebate offered to farmers on their rates notices from 30pc to 10pc over the next four years.
Ms Germano said the existing rebate recognises the inequity that farmers face when paying local government rates.
“Farmers already pay far more in rates than other ratepayers. We also have less access to the services offered by local government.
“That’s why a system of differential rates operates across the state in recognition of this inequity and to promote fairness in the system,” she said.
Ms Germano encouraged the council to consider alternative rating strategies as part of its review of its revenue and rating plan.
“This is a great opportunity for council to rethink its rating strategy and introduce a differential rate for farmland, bringing Glenelg in line with most other rural and regional councils.”
Ms Germano also encouraged local farmers to have their say as part of the council’s consultative process.
“The VFF is preparing a submission on behalf of our members in the shire, but we also encourage all farmers to put in an individual submission.”
“I would encourage farmers to educate the council just how much their business pays in rates. The farming community must be united and vocal in opposing this rate grab.”