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    VFF chief executive Jane Lovell and president Emma Germano during a visit to Longerenong College this week.

AgLife: VFF fearful of rates increase

Record farm-land sales across Victoria has prompted the state’s peak farming body to urge regional municipal councils to be wary of applying ‘inequitable’ rate increases in response to the market.

Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano said farmers were becoming concerned that the sales would have a major impact on their rate notices. 

“Record land values and the fact we have annual valuations means many farmers are going to be hit with unfair increases to their rates notices this year,” she said.

“Ordinarily we expect farmland to double in value over a decade. However, we’ve been seeing land double in value within the space of three years, and in some instances values have doubled within 12 months.

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“Instead of investing in their business, farmers are worried they’ll need to save more just to pay for their rates.”

Ms Germano said many local government councils had failed to adjust their rates according to the difference in value between farm land and other land uses.

“We have been seeing councils adjusting their rates based on the total change in land value across the entire council, instead of adjusting the rates for each class of property.

“That means councils have been cutting the rate in the dollar by a flat amount for all classes of property, even though land value changes are different for residential, commercial and farm land.

“Ultimately this means the rating burden is increasingly being forced onto farmers.”

Ms Germano said farmers were ‘tired of excuses from local councils’.

“The recent Local Government Rating System Inquiry has made it clear that the responsibility sits with local government councils to help farmers avoid rates shock,” she said.

“Where we see an unfair rate rise, the VFF will be working with councils to achieve a fair deal for farmers.

“After all the challenges we’ve faced in recent times, we’ve learnt that farmers must be resilient for our nation’s overall resilience.

“The last thing we need is to be undermined by unfair rating strategies.”

Establishing a fair system for all ratepayers in regional municipalities, covering rural, urban, business and industrial properties, has long been the subject of consistent and fierce debate.

The entire March 31, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire March 31, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!