Lovell quizzes Symes on rate relief for farmers

By Rodney Woods

State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has again pressured the Andrews Government to provide municipal rate relief to farmers in northern Victoria struggling with the drought.

In a question to Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes, Ms Lovell highlighted the inadequacies of the government’s current drought package that sees many northern Victorian farming families continuing to suffer from the drought.

“The VFF is fully supportive of a municipal rate relief package for farmers, a measure that Ms Symes has previously said ‘is not off the table’," Ms Lovell said.

With the second quarterly rate instalment due by the end of November, Ms Lovell said now was the perfect time for the government to provide municipal rate relief to help struggling farming families in the lead-up to Christmas.

“With the second rate instalment due shortly, an expense farming families cannot afford, I call on the minister to look after our valuable farmers and provide municipal rate relief to those affected by the drought.”

In response, Ms Symes said the government's drought package was targeted to the needs of farmers now and in the future — but did not say whether rate relief was being considered.

“We've listened to farmers and business owners doing it tough, and this package reflects what they need for both immediate relief and preparedness measures against future challenging conditions,” she said.

“The GMID (Goulburn Murray Irrigation District) is facing both difficult seasonal conditions and market challenges.

“As well as targeted support for dairy farmers experiencing high input costs, farmers in the region will be eligible for direct financial assistance through the Farmers’ Drought Fund.”