AGFORCE: Easing pressure on farmers starts with capping rents

AUSTRALIA - AgForce has renewed its calls for the Queensland Government to overhaul the leasehold land rental system in the wake of yesterday’s water summit in Canberra where Prime Minister John Howard suggested the states waive water charges and introduce a rates rebate scheme to help drought affected farmers.
calendar icon 8 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

AgForce vice president John Cotter said at the summit the PM once again reignited the issue of state
governments providing help and support to producers.

“Local government rates are a major input cost to farmers and they have to pay them, they are not
discretionary. This rebate support could also be provided to small business operators in rural areas
who also need help,’’ Mr Cotter said.

“The rebate would allow producers to buy extra fodder for stock and waiving water charges -
particularly for those farmers still having to pay for water they can’t access - is another good
suggestion. For example a farmer in the South Burnett pays $20,000 a year in local government rates,
so a rebate scheme on that would prove very beneficial during this time.”

Mr Cotter said it was also important that recognition was given to small businesses in rural areas who
are also adversely affected by drought but often overlooked.

“It’s also important that local government is supported as it is often the biggest employer in local
shires and when they feel the pinch it has a real flow-on effect.”

Mr Cotter said while AgForce wholeheartedly welcomed these suggestions, the best way the State
Government could help farmers right now was to reform its methods for calculating rents on leasehold
land - which currently calculates rents based on yearly valuations which result in wildly fluctuating

“For the past 12 months, AgForce has been lobbying the government to introduce this new system
which recognises commercial reality where rents on leasehold land rise by no more than the CPI in
any one year.

Mr Cotter said it was imperative the State Government moved on the issue now and called on
Treasurer Anna Bligh to reform the system.

“We are encouraged by the Treasurer’s comments today where she said she would review the costs
and benefits in regards to water and a rates rebate. However, AgForce’s proposal for reforming rents
has been in front of them for months and months, this is the ideal way for the State Government to
show they are doing their bit to help families suffering during this terrible drought.” News Desk

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