A GLENORCHY farmer says the rate rise for Northern Grampians farmers is unsustainable
Councillors will meet on Monday to consider adopting Northern Grampians Shire's 2020-21 draft budget, which is out for public comment until Thursday.
It includes an average rate rise of 11.6 per cent for farm landowners, where the rates on all other types of land in the shire will fall on average as part of this budget.
Kevin Jess said higher land valuations, which guide the rates set for farmers, did not always mean primary producers had a higher capacity to pay rates.
"This season has been excellent up until now," he said. "We are on a bit of a knife edge, we had a really good start before a dry July and some frosts, so now our crops and pastures are struggling.
"Livestock markets are bouncing around a bit, the wool market has had a crash, and grain prices are still reasonable, but where is the money going ot come from to pay for stuff? We might be alright for this year, but in another year or two when the reality sets in they have to pay for it all, I don't know. I think it's going to be pretty tough-going."
Read the councils farm land rate policy, and the draft budget, here.
Mr Jess said rates made up "a big chunk" of farmers' budgets. He said he wanted to see his rates go towards paying for higher quality gravel roads and clearance work.
Councillor Kevin Erwin, said there was only so much the council could do.
"Valuations are skewing the rate rises. It is disappointing because there was a lot of work being done by the Municipal Association of Victoria and the Victorian Farmers Federation," he said.
"I spoke to the valuer-general myself last year, and nothing has changed except the minister."
"The only mechanism the council has is the rate differential. In Northern Grampians they get a 53 per cent differential. It is not fair at the moment.
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"We have a road management act we have to comply with which drives road maintenance."
The draft budget notes the estimated total value of farm properties in the shire in 2020-21 is over $1.7 billion, 22.3 per cent higher than last financial year.
Cr Erwin said farmers were also eligible for the council's rate relief measures being brought in in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Murray Emerson has previously hinted there could be further relief for farmers in coming years.
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