Rates are a hot issue for farmers, judging by a response to a Federated Farmers' survey.
In the space of a week, from January 29 to February 7, a total of 1070 farmers fired in their thoughts and opinions.
''It's because farmers have a lot of concerns regarding rates and what they get in return; it rings their bells,'' Nick Clark of Federated Farmers in Wellington said.
Of the farmers who replied, 97% were unhappy about the amount they had to pay in rates.
''The big one was they felt they were getting little service through their rates, another one was the poor state of rural roads which they say were being left to deteriorate.
''Another one was the feeling farmers were cross-subsidising urban ratepayers for services they could not access.
''Things like rubbish collection; they pay for it but don't get it, as well as subsidising libraries and cemeteries.''
As far as the response from the Central South Island, Mr Clark said he received quite a number from Mid Canterbury where farmers were concerned about funding various facilities in Ashburton.
''We also got a fair number from Timaru, as well, less so with Waimate and Mackenzie, probably because they are smaller.''
He said farmers believed it was unfair that they were rated on the value of their properties and as a result paid a disproportionate amount for services.
Also they were concerned at funding tourism infrastructure.
The sheer size of the rates and large increases in recent years have become a big bugbear, Mr Clark said.
On average each farmer paid regional and district annual rates of $26,208.
''The median — this is the middle amount — is $19,746 and the maximum rates paid was $320,000.''
South Canterbury Federated Farmers president Jason Grant said farmers' rates had gone up a lot in the past few years and the service being received was ''quite contentious.''
''The most that farmers get is roading and the investment in that hasn't been as good as could have been.
''Councils are not flush with money either; their costs have gone up so there's a bit of a squeeze.''
Federated Farmers collated the results of the survey and made a submission to the Productivity Commission.
The Government has asked the commission to make an inquiry into local government funding and financing.
An issues paper released by the commission asked questions about current pressure points and ways that councils could manage cost pressures. It then sought views on options for future funding and financing tools.
The commission said feedback from interested parties, such as farmers, was critical in better understanding specific issues and being able to provide relevant and credible policy recommendations in its report to the Government.
Submissions closed on February 15.
Mr Clark said Local Government NZ was concerned also at the present method of rates funding.
''Federated Farmers would like a shift away from the over-reliance on using rates to fund local government; we need a better funding tool. For example, there's a strong case for central government to dip into GST from tourism to pay for tourism infrastructure.''
In 2003 Federated Framers produced a ''$10k Rates Mug'' after an MP debunked the idea that any farmer paid more than $10,000 in rates.
As a result, Federated Farmers asked farmers to send in their stories which found this indeed was the case.
In return for their stories, Federated Farmers sent them a $10k Rates Mug.
The idea was used again for the survey.
Mr Clark said the updated ''eco-friendly'' mug had proved extremely popular and they soon ran out of stock.
-By Chris Tobin