Last week I wrote to Victoria's rural and regional mayors warning them that the state's farmers will strongly oppose any unfair rate hikes.
The VFF constantly monitors and reports on the rates set by all local government councils to promote fair rating strategies and to actively campaign against unfair and inequitable increases.
So far, our analysis shows average farm rate assessments will be increasing across Victoria by 4.5 per cent.
In the state's west, we are seeing land values skyrocket by 20 per cent - driven by demand for cropping land and the Victorian Government's move to valuing land on an annual basis.
As a result, councils are struggling to provide farmers with rating relief because they are forced to apply an outdated and broken rating system that is set by the government.
The VFF will be vocal in calling-out councils that unfairly shift the rating burden onto farmers and the agricultural sector - and acknowledging and publicly commending councils that have balance in their ratings.
But we won't lose sight of the underlying problems with the rating system.
It's broken and it's producing inequitable outcomes for all ratepayers, not just farmers.
All regional and rural ratepayers pay more in rates as a percentage of the value of their property than ratepayers in metropolitan Melbourne.
What's more, regional and rural ratepayers often receive - and have access to - fewer services from local government than ratepayers in the city.
Changes must be made to the state's rating strategy in the long-term and farmers will take any opportunity to work with councils to advocate for reform.
However, our expectation remains that all councils will put forward a fair and equitable rating strategy this year.
This is particularly in light of recent drought conditions, the bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic.
Victorian agriculture cannot be expected to shoulder an even greater rating burden as we work to help rebuild the state's economy in the wake of COVID-19.