Federated Farmers believe a proposed average rate increase of 19 per cent by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council is "excessive and obscene".
Speaking on their submission to the Long Term Plan, called "Facing Our Future 2018-2028", Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay president Jim Galloway said the 19 per cent is only an average, meaning farmers are facing much higher increases - some exceeding 50 per cent.
He said a Hastings farm will increase by 27 per cent, a Central Hawke's Bay farm by 24 per cent and a Wairoa farm by 17 per cent, while his own farm would increase by 29 per cent - despite it already having gone up by 49 per cent over the past two years.
"These numbers are massive and will have a material impact on us."
"Farmers are facing increased operating costs and are finding rates an ever-increasing unproductive cost that funnels resources away from investing in updated technology or environmental actions. It often feels that councils can just up the rates when they want extra money, whereas the rest of us can't do that."
The Long Term Plan includes seven focus areas, and proposes a total rate rise of 19 per cent in the first year, with 13.8 per cent to focus on environmental priorities and 5.2 per cent for civil defence.
Galloway said they expect councils to show financial restraint and stick to core values.
"We also expect to see equitable rating policies where ratepayers who receive the benefit of a service contribute financially to it, and likewise where a ratepayer does not receive benefit then they are not required to fund it."
He argued that many of the activities funded by the general rate can be shifted to flat rates, such as the Governance and Community Engagement which could be fully funded by the UAGC.
"There is no link between how much your property is worth and how much representation or engagement you receive."
Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Rex Graham said while there were several other ways, as Galloway had mentioned, they believed this was the fairest way.
"Clearly while the average us 19 per cent, the big burden of this increase does fall on people who have high value assets and as in many cases that is farmers.
"It is quite a huge burden on farmers and we are very aware of that. The counter to that is a lot of our spending is going to be done in the farming sector."
Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers Immediate Past President, Will Foley said while it had been marketed that these increases were to address environmental work and projects, farmers were already spending lots of money contributing their part on their farms.
"If the regional council wants to take more money from farmers themselves, it is less money available for farms to do the work themselves."
They believe in keeping the rate increases to the level of inflation.
"There is nothing wrong with their intent around caring and looking after our environment and even trying to rectify some of the effects that we have had over many years and turn them around, I guess I question their means of doing that with this current proposal."