Rural News

  • NT wants answers in Vietnam cattle case AAP - Wed, May 20, 2015 2:42 PM NZST

    Australian authorities will "come down like a ton of bricks on people" ignoring animal welfare standards in the live export trade, Northern Territory's chief minister Adam Giles says. Federal investigations are underway into claims sledgehammers were used to kill Australian cattle and buffalo in Vietnam with Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce saying they began in March. Mr Giles said Vietnam is the NT's second-largest live export market with 140,000 head of cattle sent there in 2014, but all territorians want livestock treated humanely.

  • Dairy prices fall again overnight Newstalk ZB - Wed, May 20, 2015 6:35 AM NZST

    Global Dairy Prices have fallen by 2.2 percent overnight.

  • Bega Cheese cuts profit forecast AAP - Tue, May 19, 2015 7:03 PM NZST
    Bega Cheese cuts profit forecast

    Bega Cheese has cut its profit forecast as world dairy prices fail to recover as expected. The company expects to achieve normalised earnings in the range of $21 million and $24 million in the year to June, down from its previous forecast range of $25 million to $28 million. The downgrade reflects a weaker recovery in global dairy prices than Bega Cheese had expected, particularly for skim milk powder.

  • Implementing smarter milk farming AAP - Tue, May 19, 2015 3:01 PM NZST

    Each cow wears a collar with a computer chip that keeps track of her milk production, nearly four times that of the cows his father once tended. All this is not so much to coddle the cows as it is to make them better citizens of the planet. Cows have long been castigated for their methane-belching, manure-producing ways, one of agriculture's top contributors to climate change.

  • Qld farm cleared of banana disease AAP - Tue, May 19, 2015 12:13 PM NZST

    One of the far north Queensland banana farms diagnosed with a devastating fungal disease has been give the all-clear, biosecurity officials say. It comes after Panama TR4, a soil-borne fungal disease that attacks the banana plant, was detected at two properties in Tully and Mareeba earlier this year. The Department of Agriculture says testing of samples from the Mareeba farm has finished and the results are negative.

  • Spate of farm burglaries in Southland Newstalk ZB - Tue, May 19, 2015 9:21 AM NZST

    A spate of burglaries at farms in Southland has seen farmers eyeing security measures.

  • Hawke's Bay group eyes goat milk empire Newstalk ZB - Mon, May 18, 2015 2:00 PM NZST

    Business Hawke's Bay is hoping it can bring a billion-dollar market to the region.

  • Cut small business tax further: Shorten AAP - Fri, May 15, 2015 5:32 AM NZST

    Opposition leader Bill Shorten says he'll slash the small business tax rate to 25 per cent and turn Australia into a science and technology capital if he becomes prime minister. In his budget reply speech on Thursday night, Mr Shorten said he'd support the government's budget measures on national security, drought relief for farmers and small business. He also outlined a plan to turn Australia into the "science, start-up and technology capital" of our region, including schemes to invest in new companies, a plan to have computer coding taught in every school and incentives to attract science, technology, engineering and maths graduates to become teachers.

  • GrainCorp faces tough El Nino conditions AAP - Thu, May 14, 2015 7:09 PM NZST
    GrainCorp faces tough El Nino conditions

    GrainCorp is standing by its full year profit guidance despite a huge slide in half year earnings and forecasts of prolonged drought conditions. The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast prolonged drier, hotter conditions across much of eastern Australia linked to the El Nino weather pattern - a shift in sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. The drier conditions are expected to persist until autumn 2016. GrainCorp is eastern Australia's biggest grain handler and the group's chief executive Mark Palmquist admits the El Nino forecast is of concern.

  • Farmer's tax breaks set to come sooner AAP - Wed, May 13, 2015 10:51 PM NZST
    Farmer's tax breaks set to come sooner

    Farmers could gain earlier access to tax write-offs for spending on farm infrastructure in line with budget tax breaks for small business. That wasn't set to come in until 2017 but Agriculture Minister ...

  • Hockey starts budget sales pitch AAP - Wed, May 13, 2015 9:07 AM NZST
    Hockey starts budget sales pitch

    Joe Hockey has won praise for his second budget but faces a tough challenge getting savings through the Senate. Having announced $5 billion of tax relief for small business and farmers and $4.4 billion in support for families, it will be an easier sales pitch than last year's effort. Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says Mr Hockey has doubled the deficit in a single year and kept in place the unfairness of the 2014 budget - the $80 billion easing of hospital and school funding, university deregulation and cuts to family payments. Mr Hockey described the budget as unleashing the nation's potential and urged business to make the most of it and lower interest rates to kickstart the economy.

  • Hockey's budget road to recovery AAP - Tue, May 12, 2015 11:10 PM NZST
    Hockey's budget road to recovery

    Joe Hockey has thrown $5 billion of tax relief at small business and farmers and given $4.4 billion in support for families to stimulate the economy and kickstart the coalition's electoral hopes. Sensible savings, prudent spending and redirected funding to small business, child care, infrastructure would boost growth and jobs, Mr Hockey said. Small business will get a corporate tax rate cut of 1.5 per cent, an annual five per cent tax discount of up to $1000 a year for unincorporated businesses and, from budget night, an immediate tax deduction for all items purchased by a small business up to $20,000.

  • FIFOs axed from remote area tax benefit AAP - Tue, May 12, 2015 9:51 PM NZST

    The federal government is moving to prevent fly-in fly-out workers from claiming tax offsets for living in remote locations. The zone tax offset recognises the isolation, high cost of living and harsh climate endured by those living in certain remote parts of the country. "Many of these are FIFO workers who do not face the same challenges of remote living that zone tax offset was deigned to address," the budget papers said.

  • SA looks to growing China exports AAP - Tue, May 12, 2015 2:09 PM NZST

    South Australian businesses have the potential to create jobs and double in size by embracing exports to China, Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith says. The minister is about to lead the state's largest trade mission to China, which is South Australia's biggest trading partner. Mr Hamilton-Smith says local products and services are in high demand and the Chinese are willing to pay premium prices. A broad range of sectors will be represented on the China trip, including representatives from the agriculture, arts, education, health, mining and resources and tourism industries.

  • Farmers resist soybean ag chemicals AAP - Tue, May 12, 2015 1:01 PM NZST

    This peasant community in Luz Bella, central Paraguay, is focusing on ecological farming, resisting the massive agribusiness activities producing mainly soybeans that take up more and more land and use herbicides dangerous to human health, residents say. Soybean production surged in San Pedro province in the late 1980s with the promise of easy money, Luz Bella Peasant Association of Alternative and Ecological Producers president Jose Domingo Franco said. Paraguay, the world's fourth-largest soybean exporter, between 2009 and 2013 quintupled the amount of agricultural chemicals it imported for the extensive farms, according to Social Research Database organisation figures. Some agricultural chemicals, such as the herbicide glyphosate, produced by Monsanto and sold under the brand name Roundup, recently were called "probably carcinogenic for humans," according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

  • Aust dollar flat on China growth concerns AAP - Mon, May 11, 2015 7:21 PM NZST

    The Australian dollar is flat as China's third interest rate cut in six months leaves traders more concerned about slowing growth in the world's second largest economy. The Chinese rate cut on Sunday did drive the Aussie dollar higher briefly during morning trade, Westpac senior currency strategist Sean Callow said. The market is keenly awaiting China's retail sales and industrial production figures for April, due out on Wednesday, for any signs of economic improvement in Australia's biggest trading partner. US non-farm payrolls rose 228,000 in April, which was just short of market expectations, with the unemployment rate of 5.4 per cent matching expectations.

  • Dairy prices drop again Newstalk ZB - Wed, May 6, 2015 5:25 AM NZST

    Dairy prices are down again for the fourth auction in a row, dropping by 3.5 percent in the Global Dairy Trade auction overnight.

  • Vietnam rice boom puts pressure on farmers AAP - Mon, May 4, 2015 3:01 PM NZST

    Rice farmer Nguyen Hien Thien is so busy growing his crops that he has never even visited Can Tho, a town only a few kilometres from his farm in the southern Mekong Delta. Experts say Vietnam's drive to become one of the world's leading rice exporters is pushing farmers in the fertile delta region to the brink, with mounting costs to the environment. As a scientist, I want to see more being done to protect farmers and the environment," said Vietnamese rice expert Vo Tong Xuan. This now generates far more of the crop than needed to feed Vietnam's 90 million population and has spawned a thriving export industry.

  • Former Bulla Dairy boss takes SPC's helm AAP - Mon, May 4, 2015 1:49 PM NZST

    The former head of Bulla Dairy Foods, Reg Weine, is taking up the top job at canned foods company SPC. SPC's parent company Coca-Cola Amatil says Mr Weine will take up the post on May 26, replacing Peter ...

  • ICoast spill victims hope for recompense AAP - Fri, May 1, 2015 1:01 PM NZST

    Andoudoua Blonde says he will have to live forever with blindness in one eye, headaches and skin rashes caused by a 2006 dumping of toxic waste near his farm in Ivory Coast. Like thousands of others, he says he still has not received any compensation for his suffering from the European multinational oil trader Trafigura, which offloaded the materials at the port of Abidjan, the west African nation's capital. While Trafigura has paid out some 185 million euros ($A255.74 million) in settlements -- much of it to the government, according to 2007 presidential records -- victims' advocates consider it a ridiculously small amount given the tens of thousands of people hurt. Now, more than 100,000 victims are making one last charge for compensation for their ordeal, but it is unclear how far they will get.

  • Steep drop in Qld business confidence AAP - Fri, May 1, 2015 11:05 AM NZST

    Business confidence in Queensland has plunged to a six-year low and the new Labor government is partly to blame, a new survey shows. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland's Pulse Survey of Business Conditions shows business confidence in the March quarter fell to 37.7 index points, well below the 50-point level that indicates improvement. The drought, a slow-down in mining and the new government were all partially to blame, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland spokesman Nick Behrens told ABC radio.

  • Banana disease latest burden for farmers AAP - Thu, Apr 30, 2015 4:52 PM NZST

    Queensland banana farmer Steven Lizzio's plantation is "smack bang between Innisfail and Tully" - right in the middle of the Tropical Race 4 Panama Disease danger zone. The ruinous fungal disease had never been detected in Queensland until this year, but wiped out the Northern Territory's industry in the 1990s. It's a fresh hardship for the state's troubled banana farmers who battled cyclones Larry and Yasi in 2006 and 2011. Unsurprisingly, some farmers are struggling to stay positive so there's now a push to protect the farmers' mental health as well as their properties.

  • Plumping France's shrivelled prune market AAP - Thu, Apr 30, 2015 4:01 PM NZST

    France's famous Agen prunes have seen their market share shrivel in recent years under pressure from Chilean growers, but local farmers have ploughed money into modern methods in a bid to save their plums. The rolling valleys in the Lot-et-Garonne region of southwest France are speckled with the white flowers of plum blossoms at this time of year. "We were navel-gazing and thinking we were perfect," says farmer Patrick Leger, standing beside his picturesque orchard. Traditional orchards were only 15 to 20 hectares in Agen, compared with over 300 hectares in Chile.

  • New milk plant for SA's southeast AAP - Thu, Apr 30, 2015 2:18 PM NZST

    A former potato chip factory in South Australia's southeast is to be converted into a dairy processing plant under a $60 million deal. Premier Jay Weatherill says the redeveloped plant at Penola will produce ...

  • Fonterra downgrades milk price again Newstalk ZB - Thu, Apr 30, 2015 9:40 AM NZST

    Fonterra has announced another drop in its forecast farmgate milk price for the current season.

  • US-Cuba trade hit decade low in 2014 AAP - Tue, Apr 28, 2015 1:01 PM NZST

    US exports to Cuba hit one of their lowest points in a decade in 2014, a demonstration of the longstanding barriers to trade that will hamper President Barack Obama's move to expand ties, figures show. The statistics from the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council show that US farmers sold slightly more than $US253 million ($A323.43 million) worth of food and agricultural products to Cuba in the first 10 months of 2014. If the last two months of the year reflect similar sales levels, 2014 could be the worst year for US exports to Cuba since 2004. American farmers say the main barrier to sales to Cuba is a US government ban on providing credit to the island.

  • Jobs at risk at milk processing plants AAP - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 7:39 PM NZST

    About 100 jobs are at risk at two milk processing plants in South Australia after a failure to sell the facilities as going concerns. The United Dairy Power (UDP) operations at Murray Bridge and Jervois have been placed in receivership and are expected to stop taking milk from local farmers by the end of this week. Receivers PPB Advisory said farmers impacted by the closure of the facilities would be paid in full and the company would also help them establish new milk supply agreements with alternative dairy processors. "There is currently strong demand for milk supply from other local processors and it is anticipated that this positive environment will enable affected dairy farmers to find alternative distribution channels for their milk," PPB said in a statement.

  • Qld govt drags feet over ethanol: Katter AAP - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 6:36 PM NZST

    Katter's Australian Party has slammed the Queensland government's "tentative approach" to mandating ethanol in fuel. Energy Minister Mark Bailey will draw up a discussion paper on biofuels with the aim of eventually requiring big oil firms to include an ethanol blend in their fuel. Both sugar cane growers and peak agriculture body Agforce have welcomed the government's proposal saying it they have been pushing for it for years. The mandate issue is one the KAP's top three priorities it wants Labor's minority government to promise in return for their support in the hung parliament.

  • Floods lead to farmer suicides AAP - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 3:01 PM NZST

    April is usually a time of celebration for millions of farmers across northern India. The winter wheat crop is ready to be harvested, and there's money to clear past debts and plan future planting. In Uttar Pradesh alone, more than three dozen farmers have taken their own lives, according to the state's government. The largely agrarian state - India's most populous, with 210 million people - has declared a state of emergency to seek funds from the federal government to compensate farmers.

  • Govt backing NT mines over farmers: NTCA AAP - Wed, Apr 22, 2015 11:08 PM NZST

    The Northern Territory government is ignoring pastoralists in favour of miners, the NT Cattlemen's Association says. Mines and Energy Minister Dave Tollner on Wednesday said accessing land for oil and gas exploration is an "overwhelming problem". Mr Tollner said legislation would be a last resort to entrench mandatory access agreements between miners and pastoralists and it would add red tape for a mining industry already struggling with plummeting commodity prices. "We're not interested in seeing fights between miners and pastoralists.

  • Farmers to challenge Rinehart coal mine Wed, Apr 22, 2015 10:20 AM NZST

    Environmentalists are going to court to fight against Gina Rinehart's proposed central Queensland coal mine. The state's land court ruled last year that it wasn't in the public interest to approve the Alpha Coal Project in the Galilee Basin because of the impact on groundwater. Conservation group Coast and Country is taking GVK Hancock to the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Wednesday to seek a judicial review, where it will argue the Land Court should have recommended the 30 million tonne-per year mine be rejected outright. They will also seek a ruling that the environmental authority for the mine issued by the government is not valid as it depended on a flawed recommendation of the land court.

  • Qld premier tours drought stricken towns AAP - Wed, Apr 22, 2015 8:41 AM NZST

    The Queensland premier is touring drought-hit communities in western Queensland to get a first-hand view of the crisis they are facing. Annastacia Palaszczuk spent Tuesday afternoon inspecting a crippled property at Charleville before dining with mayors and councillors, who told her of the plight of the many farmers hit by several failed wet seasons. She'll then head to Longreach and Barcaldine to meet with drought affected farmers there.

  • Dairy farmers urged to prepare for milk price drop Newstalk ZB - Sat, Apr 18, 2015 6:50 AM NZST

    Dairy farmers are being urged to prepare for the reality of the drop in milk prices as a tough season looms ahead.

  • Panama rules to protect Qld banana farms AAP - Fri, Apr 17, 2015 6:53 PM NZST
    Panama rules to protect Qld banana farms

    Queensland will next week finalise strict new biosecurity standards to help contain a devastating soil-borne fungus that has infected two plantations in the state's far north. Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4) wiped out the Northern Territory banana industry in the 1990s. Farmers have this week been meeting with scientific specialists to agree on new protocols to allow those plantations to still send fruit to markets. Industry-wide controls to contain any further spread of Panama are paramount in keeping the state's banana farmers in business, acting chief biosecurity officer Malcolm Letts said.

  • Fonterra bond sale oversubscribed AAP - Thu, Apr 16, 2015 7:55 PM NZST
    Fonterra bond sale oversubscribed

    Fonterra has attracted $NZ100 million ($A98.87 million) of oversubscriptions for its 2021 bonds in a sale that benefited from the maturity of $NZ800m of existing debt. Fonterra sold a total $NZ350m of the bonds which pay annual interest of 4.33 per cent and will be quoted on the NZX Debt Market. "They had $NZ800m mature last month so a lot of investors in that bond wanted to find something to put that money into," said Mark Brown of Harbour Asset Management. "Fund managers were happy to go back into the bond," he said, adding that its pricing was in line with existing Fonterra bonds trading in the secondary market.