27 June 2018

Strong leadership needed from councils to share the rates burden

ACROSS VICTORIA farmers are taking action against the unfair rates burden on farmland. This afternoon farmers will gather at the Mildura Rural Shire Council offices to protest the proposed rates increase of 22.87% for farmland.

“We encourage all Mildura ratepayers to join us today in Mildura at the Deakin Avenue Service Centre from 4.30pm onwards to peacefully protest the proposed unfair rates increase for farmland” said David Jochinke, Victorian Farmers Federation President.

In partnership with local farmers, the Victorian Farmers Federation has held meetings and rallies in Kalkee and Ouyen to discuss the challenges with sustainable funding of rural councils and to protest the increasing rates burden on farmers across many councils.

“We want to work with councils across Victoria to promote a balanced rating strategy that shares the burden between all rating categories. Northern Grampians Council has shown leadership this week by adopting a budget that balances the rates increase between residential, farm and business to 2.25%. We hope other councils follow their lead.

“From the start, Yarriambiack Shire Council has strived to fairly share the rates burden by setting a standard 2.25% rates increase across all categories. Bullock Shire is also actively managing the differential to balance the burden. We now look to councils such as Mildura, Horsham and Pyrenees to adjust their budgets to balance the burden” said Mr Jochinke.

Capping rates increases to 2.25% for each category is necessary to fairly share the rates burden. However, the Victorian Farmers Federation acknowledges that it is not a long-term solution to funding rural councils.

“There is a lot more work to be done to create a sustainable funding framework for rural councils that addresses the broken rating system and the clear inequities between urban and rural councils. But while we work on those long-term solutions, we cannot expect farmers to shoulder the rates burden” said Mr Jochinke.

Media Contacts:
David Jochinke, President, Victorian Farmers Federation, 0427 834 524
Heather Smillie, Stakeholder Policy & Advocacy Officer, 0400 874 589

About the VFF
The Victorian Farmers Federation is an active, powerful lobby group dedicated to the interests of farmers and making a difference to communities. With a strong record of successful political and industry advocacy and leadership, the VFF has generated substantial benefits for the agriculture sector since its formation in 1979.

The VFF consists of eight commodity groups; dairy (United Dairyfarmers of Victoria), livestock, grains, horticulture, chicken meat, eggs, pigs and Flowers Victoria – and expert committees representing; water, land management, agricultural and veterinarian chemicals, farm business and rural development and workplace relations.

VFF members lead each of these groups and committees with the support of Melbourne and regionally based staff. As a team we provide the power to effectively influence all levels of government on the wide range of issues that impact on modern farming. The VFF has approximately 200 branches across the state. Our vision is to create an environment for farmers that enables profitable, safe and sustainable production, within a community that values and respects the farm sector.