FARMERS look to data and documentation to address concerning issues in upcoming farm rate changes.
The St Arnaud Victorian Farmers Federation branch held an online forum regarding the Northern Grampians rating system.
The Tuesday, September 28 online forum featured more than 20 participants, including VFF senior policy advisor Charles Everist.
He looked at the issues in the rates, analysis and possible solutions.
Mr Everist said VFF act as a watchdog for rates for farmers, monitoring and analysing increases and trends across the state.
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"We want to take an educated approach to councils," he said.
"It's important changes are done at a local level."
An analysis of Northern Grampians saw the average farm rate bill increased by $1612 in the 2021/22 budget, with an average rate bill for farm business at around $16,400.
Mr Everist said the average rates across the state varies from $10,000 to $15,000.
"Northern Grampians is at a higher end of that scale, and that's of concern to us," he said.
This also means farmers are paying for 38.83 per cent of total rates for Northern Grampians Shire for the 2021/22 financial year, an increase of 3.3 per cent from the previous year.
In the analysis of the Northern Grampian's budgets dating back to 2013/14, the VFF found that over the nine rating cycles, the average farm rates have increased by 55.48 per cent, average residential rates increased by 18.44 per cent, and commercial rates have decreased by 2.78 per cent.
This means farms rates have increased 5.5 per cent, and residential rates have increased by 1.9 per cent.
"There is another thing at play, which is how council is using its differential rate," he said.
Mr Everist said differential rates are not discounted rates, something he encouraged people to press upon the council.
Mr Everist said VFF approached Northern Grampians about a remodelled budget, but the model was ignored.
The VFF recommendations include a dynamic rating strategy similar to Ararat Rural City Council.
"We've put in submissions in the last two budget process," Mr Everist said.
"The next step is to meet with the council."
VFF representations are meeting with councillors at a later date.
"I encourage farmers to share their stories with councillors directly and how rates impact them directly," Mr Everist said.
He recommended they proceed to advocate the dynamic system at the October 4 meeting.
Mr Everist will present these recommendations to all Northern Grampian Shire councillors.