A council in Victoria's east has voted to allocate more than $3 million in drought funding towards rate relief.
Wellington Shire Council voted on Wednesday afternoon to use $3.31 million in state government money for rate relief - expected to cover about 30 per cent of the council's $10 million farm rate bill for 2019/20.
In a statement, Wellington Shire Council mayor Alan Hall said the rate subsidy would ease financial pressure on 3500 properties in the municipality.
"Council will allocate the entire $3.31 million to rate relief, so farmers can look forward to this being credited to their rate assessment," Cr Hall said.
The announcement follows a $31 million drought commitment by Premier Daniel Andrews and Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes who visited Bairnsdale in October to announce drought funding for three Victorian councils.
East Gippsland Shire Council received $1.51 million in drought funding, while Mildura Rural City Council received $700,000 and Wellington $3.31.
"We thank the Premier for recognising this need and assisting council to provide this assistance to farmers during this drought," Cr Hall said.
VFF backs rate relief move
Victorian Farmers Federation Gippsland representative Cam Corrigan welcomed Wellington's decision.
"I think it's fantastic because farmers have been asking for rate relief, especially in the drought areas, and for one local council to come on board with rate relief is great news," Mr Corrigan told Stock & Land.
"Central and East Gippsland farmers are really doing it tough, they are in their third or fourth year of drought and they are evaluating their farming future more than what they thought they would have to.
"The drought has continued to roll on for a lot of people ... so this funding will take off some of the pressure on these farmers, helping them put food on the table, pay their electricity bills and help for them through the foreseeable future."
East Gippsland Shire Council will vote how to spend its $1.51 million next week.
Last week Glengarry East beef producer Tim Waite called on the council to use the money for rate relief.
"We want them [Wellington Shire Council] to show a bit of compassion and it would really help us out ... to look after the genuine farmer and keep them on the land," Mr Waite said.
"Any sort of rate relief will make a massive difference because the money it will free up, to buy fodder or put new grass in to feed cattle, would go a long way."