Three dairy farmers are pushing for Colac Otway Shire Council to reconsider its draft rating strategy and cut farm rates next financial year.
The farmers fronted councillors at a special committee meeting on Wednesday to ask for a yearly two percentage point decrease to the council’s farm differential rate for the next three years.
The differential is the difference between farm rates and the general residential rate.
Larpent former dairy farmer Alan Billing said the council’s rating system, which includes a 75-per-cent differential rate for farms, contained an “unfairness and inequity” for farmers.
Mr Billing said he had compared the farm differential rates of 10 other Victorian councils and calculated an average of 64 per cent.
He said Colac Otway Shire farms contributed 74 per cent of the total commercial rates revenue, at an average of $8900 per farm, compared with the shire’s average commercial rate payment of $3400 per business.
“It is clear that the inequities in the shire’s rating system places an unfair and disproportionate burden on farm businesses compared with other businesses in Colac Otway Shire,” Mr Billing said.
Birregurra dairy farmer Elizabeth Ryan told councillors that dairy farmers were “getting hit left, right and centre” with bills including rates, and she was among farmers “in the process of trying to get out” of the industry.
Carlisle River dairy farmer Shannon Notter, speaking on behalf of United Dairyfarmers of Victoria’s Colac branch, said the dairy industry was in a “mostly depressed state” and she called on the council to implement an “achievable” two percentage point annual rate reduction.
See today’s Colac Herald for more.