31 May 2013

Fed Farmers challenges councils

1:35 pm on 31 May 2013

Federated Farmers has gone on the warpath against local bodies it feels are unfairly targeting dairy farmers with higher rates bills and consent conditions.

The federation challenged Southland Regional Council at its annual plan hearing about a further hefty rise this year in its rating differential on dairy land use.

Southland farmers president Russell McPherson says the differential will almost double this year and would be an increase of about $1000 for an average dairy farm.

He says the dairy differential is applied universally no matter how well managed the farm, and provides no incentive to put good management systems in place.

"We'd liken it to issuing a speeding ticket to every driver sitting in a car park before he drives off."

Mr McPherson says because of the increase in land values, dairy farmers' general rates are also going up by about 7%.

This means dairy farms will pay more than 40% of the property value-based general rates though they make up only 3.6% of the total number of rating units.

Marlborough resource consent move questioned

Federated Farmers is also questioning a move by Marlborough District Council requiring a resource consent to establish new dairy farms.

Farmer president Gary Barnett says it makes no sense, as dairy conversions are not an issue in the region because the reverse is happening.

Mr Barnett says the number of dairy farms in Marlborough has fallen from 85 to 60 in a decade, and cow numbers have also dropped as farms are converted to vineyards.