LETTER: Farmers are doing the heavy lifting with rates

AFTER watching the social media chatter around the farming community protest last week, I am going to clarify some points. 

Firstly, there is a 22.87 per cent increase in the amount of money that will be collected from the agricultural section of the Mildura Council ratepayers.

This is mostly because of a 33 per cent rise in the capital improved value (CIV) of agricultural land within the council area. 

This equates to the ag sector contributing approximately $2 million more than last year into council’s rate account.

There was also 8.74 per cent rise in residential land values over this period. 

However, the council made a conscious decision to allow the CIV increase to flow directly through to the ag sector rate charges but manipulated the balance to remain within the cap of 2.25 per cent allowable increase, by lowering the rate in the dollar for all property classes by 8.17 per cent.

This equates to a drop in the amount of money collected from the residential sector.

Yes, we do know that all ag businesses don’t have a 22.87 per cent increase. Any increase impacts our businesses profitability. 

We are mostly reliant on international pricing for our products which we have no opportunity to influence, so input cost increases are very important to our businesses. 

Also, to put some facts around the comment about farmers buying new cars every few years. 

We change our car every few years – normally when it has done 200,000 to 300,000km, a number of which are done on poor condition gravel or dirt council roads.

The farm differential rate, I believe, was also mentioned in the context of being a subsidy or gift to the farm ratepayers. This needs to be considered from an equitable/fairness point of view.

The facts are: about 5 per cent of MRCC ratepayers are farmers, entitled to the farm rate differential, these 5 per cent of MRCC residents pay about 18 per cent of the total rate bill while about 90 per cent of this land is unable to access most of the services provided by MRCC from the collection of rates, i.e. no rubbish collection and limited access to library services etc.

We also provide our time and equipment to help maintain, build and upgrade sporting facilities and other recreation areas within the municipality, for the betterment of all and to help attract tourists to our region. 

Ian Hastings,

Ouyen

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