The proposal will be voted on at a meeting of Playford Council tonight as one of a number of options for revenue shifting.
Opposition to the Playford Council plan from local primary producers has been fierce and unprecedented, with many producers likely to attend the meeting.
Virginia-based horticulture group Hortex Alliance’s executive officer Bryan Robertson said a rates increase for primary production was contrary to economic development goals for the region.
“With the departure of Holden in the north, horticulture is expected to do a lot of heavy lifting and cannot afford to wear such a heavy rate increase,” he said.
“The Northern Adelaide Plains region is the prominent horticulture region in SA and is situated close to Adelaide’s northern suburbs and has the potential to grow and provide a further 3700 jobs.
“Horticulture is a potential savior for Adelaide’s north, as identified by the SA Government’s Northern Economic Leaders Forum, on which Playford Council holds a seat, so it is critical that growers are supported with competitive council rates, water, electricity and infrastructure.”
AUSVEG SA’s state manager Jordan Brooke-Barnett said he was disgusted with the treatment of growers on the Northern Adelaide Plains who have been neglected by council in current negotiations.
“The South Australian government recently announced $110 million worth of water infrastructure for the Northern Adelaide Plains region, which will help unlock the potential of horticulture to lead a revival in the economy in Adelaide’s North,” he said.
“This proposal puts these investments at risk, as even smaller growers will have to wear double the rates under this proposal, with larger growers facing an increase of nearly triple to upwards of $80,000 in rates per annum.
“This announcement is an insult to industry after growers are only just recovering from the 2016 floods and we firmly believe that the funds from these increases would be better in the hands of industry to put into jobs and investment rather than council coffers.”
Potatoes SA chief executive officer Robbie Davis said the new proposal would hit smaller and larger growers alike.
“This proposal would add significant pain for smaller growers and constrain economic development in the Northern Adelaide Plains region,” she said.
“These rate increases place a millstone around the industry’s neck at a time when the state government is looking to our industry to grow and bring new production on line.”
AUSVEG SA, Hortex Alliance and Potatoes South Australia are happy to work with the Playford Council to find a workable solution to this issue which will not hamper jobs and economic development in horticulture on the Northern Adelaide Plains.