In 2020 the VFF wrote to all Local Government Councils seeking their acknowledgement of the rating inequity faced by Victorian farmers and to ensure that councils did not implement unfair rate increases for farmers.
Despite our success with some councils not increasing rates above the state government’s rate cap of 2.5%, and a few councils actually cutting rates, a number of councils increased rates for the average farm by more than 10%. The councils include, Wellington Shire, Northern Grampians Shire, Southern Grampians Shire, Hepburn Shire and for irrigation properties in Mildura City. We are working hard to ensure similar rate increase do not happen again.
The VFF also encouraged greater representation on rural councils in light of the 2020 Local Government Elections held in October. With our support, VFF Members were successfully elected to councils including Southern Grampians, Horsham, Mansfield and Mildura.
In 2021 the VFF will continue our Fair Rates for Farmers campaign to ensure local governments set fair and equitable rate increases for farmers. Campaign updates will be posted to this page to help farming communities better interact with and follow our campaign.
How we support our members
The VFF empowers members through core actions:
- Monitor and analyse rate increases and trends across the state.
- Educate local councils about the best way to implement fairer local rating strategies.
- Support the formation of local community groups – representing farmers with a lead voice
- Generating media attention to bring the rating issue and council governance to the public.
- Lobby government for a fairer and more equitable rating system.
2021-22 Farm Rates Campaign
Click on your local government area in the list below to the learn more about the work we are doing in your community:
Ararat Rural City Council
In 2020, Ararat Rural City implemented a 1% average rate decrease for all rating sectors, including farmland. In 2021, Council again announced no rate increase for all rating sectors. This rating strategy has been implemented despite successive years of valuation asymmetries caused by booming farmland values. The VFF congratulate Ararat Rural City on its rating strategy, believing it is a model for other rural shires to ensure fair and equitable rate increases.
Glenelg Shire Council
Following Glenelg Shire’s attempt to increase farm rates in 2021, the Council is now proposing to introduce a farm differential rate at the request of the VFF and the farming community. Preliminary analysis undertaken by the VFF suggests the proposal would result in a 20% increase to rates for all ratepayers across the shire.
The VFF Policy Team has prepared a fact sheet for members to assist in understanding the proposal and how to take part in Council’s consultation which closes at 5pm Friday 25 February.
Golden Plains Shire Council
In late November 2021, Golden Plains Shire Council announced it would undertake a review of its rating strategy. As part of the review, three options were put to the community:
- No change to the exisiting strategy
- Option 1 – which includes a reduction of the Municipal Charges from $310 to $250
- Option 2 – which includes reducing the farm differential rate from 85% to 90% of the General Rate and reduction the Municipal Charge from $310 to $250.
Information about the proposals can be found on Council’s website.
VFF’s analyses shows that under Option 2, the average farm business’ rates would increase by at least $700, whilst the rates for other ratepayers would be reduced. The VFF is strongly opposing any change to Council’s rating strategy and have put forward a submission to the review that can be accessed here.
Northern Grampians Shire Council
The VFF put forward submission to Northern Grampians’ draft budget in 2020 and 2021, opposing Council’s proposed rate hikes for farmers. In an analyses of its 2021/22 Budget, the VFF estimated the average farm rate bill in Northern Grampians increased by $1,612 – with the average farm business paying over $16,400 in rates. The increase in farm rates also resulted in a shifting of the overall rating burden on the farm sector, which paid 35.49% of the total rates in 2020/21, to paying 38.83% of total rates in 2021/22.
VFF lead a meeting of local farmers in September 2021 to discuss alternative rating strategies and the need to advocate for fairer local rates. VFF has secured a meeting with Council for October, and we look forward to sharing our suggestions for a fairer rating system for all local ratepayers.
Wellington Shire Council
In 2020 average farm rates in Wellington Shire increased by 11% with some farmers reporting their rate’s notices had doubled. Our local VFF members have been vocal opponents to these unfair rate increases. At the 2020 Local Government Elections, VFF sent a questionnaire to all candidates seeking their support for fairer rates for farmers. In early 2021, VFF met with Wellington Shire’s mayor and councilors to discuss alternative rating strategies. We are looking forward to continue working with the Shire to maintain a fair and equitable rate burden for all ratepayers.
The best way to campaign for fair rates is at the local level. Experience shows that when farmers work together to advocate for change locally, there is a much greater chance of success.
Farmers wanting to take action at a local level can contact the VFF Stakeholder Policy Advocacy Adviser, Charles Everist, on 0400 199 522 to discuss how the VFF can support you and your community deliver positive outcomes.