BUNDABERG Regional Council has been told to 'stop treating farmers like garbage' after it imposed massive rate rises of up to 235 per cent on agricultural land.
Farmers from across the 6431 square kilometre shire have launched a community-wide petition in a bid to force Mayor Jack Dempsey to reverse the crippling and unprecedented rates rises.
Farmers are calling for all rises to limited to no more than the Consumer Price Index, which rose 2.3 per cent for the year ending February 2020.
The petition is the work of a consortium made up of Bundaberg Canegrowers, Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers, AgForce and Canegrowers Isis, which has also placed posters in shops, businesses and offices across the region.
The posters show wheelie bins and plastered with the slogan: 'Don't Treat Our Farmers Like Rubbish'. Bumper stickers has also been issued.
Cane farmer Dean Cayley said farmers had the support of the community because it was well understood that it was the Bundaberg farmers' value chain that supported tens of thousands of jobs in this region.
"Ripping the money out of farms, giving us zero in return and pushing us to the wall financially means a direct knock-on effect to a whole host of businesses including local retailers, shops, cafes, pubs, entertainment venues, tourism operations and car and boat dealerships," Mr Cayley said.
"We need Bundaberg Regional Council to hear loud and clear from our community that Jack Dempsey and his councillors can't treat our region's farmers like rubbish.
We need Bundaberg Regional Council to hear loud and clear from our community that Jack Dempsey and his councillors can't treat our region's farmers like rubbish.
"Farming is at the heart of our community and council needs to remember that."
Peter McLennan from Canegrowers Isis said the campaign would continue until the rates decision was reversed.
"This community cannot afford to lose its farming industry and farmers cannot afford to pay a rates rise of up to 235pc," Mr McLennan said. "We ask everyone to sign the petition."
Meanwhile, Cloncurry Shire Council has announced 50pc rates concessions for non-essential businesses including hotels and motels. Mayor Greg Campbell said non-essential businesses had been severely impacted, even though there had been no positive COVID cases in the region.