In a landscape where the cost of farming is increasing, growers say they’re struggling to cope with Bundaberg Regional Council’s hefty rates rise.

Charles Grima, who has farmed sugarcane and sweet potatoes for decades, has had one of the area’s highest increases in rates.

Previously his net half-yearly payment was $1,704 and now it’s $5,771 — a rise of more than 238 per cent.

“Farmers don’t have a guaranteed income; one year we can make a lot of money and the next year we’re lucky to break even,” he said.

“If we’re not allowed to keep some of the money from good years, you’re struggling to survive.”

Area category 9 rates — rural properties — faced hikes of between 1 and 238 per cent following increased land valuations by the State Government.

Council will take an income of almost $10 million solely from this rate category during this financial year, making up more than 12 per cent of their total budget.

This is an increase of more than $2 million from last year.

Out of the 1,796 properties in this category, only 16 will see a decrease in rates.

‘It just kills you’

Mr Grima said that in all the time he’d spent farming, he’d never seen such a severe rate rise.

“It turns everybody from the land — my son is the last generation in farming because of costs,” he said.

“My grandkids will not be farmers after they see what their parents and grandparents go through.

“It just kills you.”

Glenn Pressler, who grows cane and runs cattle on a 30-hectare property in Windermere, said his rates bill had tripled.

“It’s a fairly large increase — it’s gone from $600 to about $1800 for six months,” Mr Pressler said.

“It’s just wrong — you can’t sustain that huge rise.”

Mr Pressler said the rate rise contributed to the cost of farming becoming unsustainable.

“Everything is going up in price, input costs are going up and we’re getting less from our produce and the weather isn’t very good for us — we’re in drought conditions,” he said.

“You just can’t afford to keep going on like that.”

Bundaberg Regional Council has defended its decision for the rate rise.

In a statement to the ABC, a spokesman said the impact of COVID-19 on council’s budget had forecast a $2.8 million reduction in revenue (from the airport, Moncrieff and holiday parks) and a $5.2 million deficit.

He said individual landholders could apply for hardship relief. To do so, he said, they would need to provide evidence of financial difficulty, but farm lobby groups had provided no evidence of general hardship across the entire agricultural category.

Council’s forward plan is to keep rate increases aligned with the CPI.

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