Mandate differential rates for all farmers – says VFF | My Machinery
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Mandate differential rates for all farmers – says VFF

The Victorian Farmers Federation has demanded local councils be forced to deliver differential rates to all commercial farmers. The demand was made in the VFF’s submission on the government’s draft Ministerial Guidelines on Differential Rates. “The sad fact is we’ve still got councils that force farmers to pay the same rate as residential properties,” VFF president Peter Tuohey said. “It means we’ve got some farmers paying more than $40,000 a year in rates, because the council has decided to rate their land as though it was residential land. “The point is the value of rural land in no way reflects what farmers can earn of it.” The result is that Victorian farmers end up paying 46 per cent of the rates collected from country Victorian businesses, but only make up 12 per cent of the regional economy. “We have situations where the bank in town is paying less rates than many farmers,” Mr Tuohey said. “This is blatantly unfair and has to change “That’s why we’re calling on Local Government Jeanette Powell to make sure all councils are forced to give farmers a lower rate in the dollar.” Local Council rates and charges have increased by more than 36 per cent since 2008. Victorian farmers are now paying $180 million in rates, $45 million more than they were paying five years ago. The VFF’s submission calls: – on the minister to develop guidelines that demand local governments justify why they don’t offer a farm differential rate. – the minister be given the power to force councils to apply a farm differential rate. – the maximum rate collected on the capital improved value of properties to be wound down to 50% of the residential rate over the next five years. – the government establish a clear and inexpensive appeals process for ratepayers wanting a fairer differential. “Getting councils to deliver a mandated farm rate to all commercial farmers is just one small step on the road to delivering a fairer rating system. “Ultimately the VFF is calling for a parliamentary inquiry in to the fairness and equity of the rating system in regional Victoria. “It is difficult to look at the use of differentials in isolation. We need a Parliamentary inquiry to examine the whole rating system and local government funding models. “That’s why we’re calling on all farmers to sign our rates petition calling for an inquiry.”

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