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 Farm Rates Campaign
Glenelg Shire Council
In April 2021, Glenelg Shire Council released its Draft Revenue and Rating Plan setting out how the council intends to rate farmers over the next four years.
The VFF is deeply concerned by the Council’s proposal to reduce the 30% primary producer rebate to 10%. We estimate the average farm business will pay $10,000 additional rates over the next four years if the council agrees to the plan. The VFF is taking action to oppose this plan and to work with Council to achieve a fairer local rating system for all ratepayers.
We are encouraging all local farmers to have their say by voicing their opposition to the proposed change. Details about the proposal and how you can have your say can be found on Council’s website: https://yoursay.glenelg.vic.gov.au/draft-revenue-and-rating-plan.
You have until Friday 7 May 2021 to write a submission. We recommend you share with Council the impact that rates specifically has on your business. Please also try to ensure you include the following key messages supported by the VFF:
- Council should not reduce the Primary Producer Rebate in 2021-22 as the rebate helps to mitigate the impact of the rating burden on the farm sector.
- Council should replace its Primary Producer Rebate with a farm differential rate to be introduced in 2022-23. The differential rate should be set at a level of no more than 70% of the general rate. Glenelg Shire is one of the few rural councils in Victoria not to have a farm differential rate.
- Council’s rate strategy should take into account for the ability to pay and farmers’ ability to pay rates fluctuates to a far greater degree than wage and salary earners.
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.