You can help farmers for the price of a cup of coffee

Protect this: Deputy mayor Matt Gould's idea is designed to protect Wollondilly's valued rural lifestyle. Picture: Sharon Robertson/Dilly Drought Drive
Protect this: Deputy mayor Matt Gould's idea is designed to protect Wollondilly's valued rural lifestyle. Picture: Sharon Robertson/Dilly Drought Drive

If we don't do something to help our farmers, we risk losing our rural lifestyle.

That's the message from Wollondilly deputy mayor Matt Gould, who has an idea on how the council can ease farmers' financial burden.

He took to Facebook last week and asked if locals would "be willing to pay an extra couple of dollars a year on [their] rates if it meant that our farmers' rates could stay the same as they are now or go down a little".

"Council is currently considering its rating strategy for next year as part of its operational plan and one of the things I'm keen to look at is providing rate relief in one form or another for our farmers," Cr Gould wrote.

"To keep the rates as they are now for farmers would cost the average resident in one of our town or village centres an additional $1.09 over the course of the year - on top of the normal rate increase which would be 3.11 per cent.

"For the price of a cup of coffee, we could actually reduce the rates for our farmers, quite significantly in some cases."

Cr Gould said farmers were still doing it tough.

"This drought is ongoing - that little bit of rain we've had has done nothing," he said.

"Wollondilly people really value their rural lifestyle so I think if we can do a little bit to support them, it will ensure their longevity.

"If we have farmers leaving because they can't makes ends meet, those farms will go. Once they're gone, they're gone - developers will buy up the land.

"I think we should do what we can to maintain our valued rural lifestyle."

Cr Gould said the slight rate rise for the average shire citizen was just one of the options he was considering raising with his fellow councillors.

He said reactions to the suggestion had been mixed.

"I've had quite a few farmers private message me in support of the idea," Cr Gould said.

"But there have been a lot of people who are against a rate rise in any respect - which is understandable. Some people have made some great suggestions which I will also be considering."

Some comments on Facebook slammed the idea. Gordon Grant said his "rates are already extortionate" while Nathan Ockers said "I feel for the farmers and they deserve a lot of help, but it should come from the federal government, not the ratepayer".

Jules Levy asked why it was "the responsibility of mum and dad ratepayers and business owners just trying to get by" to help out farmers.