As local councils finalise rating strategies and draft budgets for the year ahead, Western Victorian farmers are urging them to avoid inequitable rate rises.
Rising land prices in the western parts of Victoria continued to be top of mind for farmers, who say unfair rate increases may be a possibility.
Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) President Emma Germano said her organisation would be on the lookout for councils that may unfairly increase rates.
"Booming land sales continue to threaten farmers with yet another year of unfair rate increases expected in 2022/23," Ms Germano said.
"Instead of blaming rate increases simply on land value increases, local councils need to use the tools at their disposal to ensure the rate burden is not shifted further onto the farming sector.
"The VFF will be vocal in calling out councils who do this, whilst acknowledging and publicly commending councils that strike balance in their rating strategies."
The VFF Wimmera Branch president and grain grower, Ryan Milgate, Minyip, has written to the Horsham, Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh and Northern Grampians councils on behalf of farmers in the district setting out expectations for fair rates in the upcoming financial year.
He said a working group of local VFF members have been formed and will prompt all farmers to have their say once budgets are released.
"Once the councils release their budgets, we'll be actively encouraging all farmers to have their say," Mr Milgate said
"It's really important that we make the effort and be vocal in opposing unfair rate increases."
"The VFF stands ready to support farmers in preparing submissions and questions to their council when the time comes later this April and May," Mr Milgate said.
Ms Germano also hit out at the state government, saying their rate capping policy did not protect farmers due to how it is calculated.
"Victoria's rate cap is not working and is leading to worse outcomes for farmers," Ms Germano said.
"The VFF has repeatedly said the cap is flawed, given it is determined by dividing rate revenue by the total number of rateable properties.
"That means councils can ratchet up farm rates beyond the cap while keeping the overall 'average' increase for all ratepayers at or below the cap each year."
Ms Germano said despite the cap, farmers have made it clear that councils had the power to impose fair decisions by using differential rates.
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