Rural News

  • 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.

  • Farmers tighten belts as milk price drops again Newstalk ZB - Thu, Apr 16, 2015 8:58 AM NZST

    Belts may need to tighten even further for dairy farmers as global milk prices continue to fall.

  • Queensland to promote beef to China AAP - Wed, Apr 15, 2015 12:08 PM NZST

    Queensland's agriculture minister will fly to China to promote the state's beef to the world's second-largest economy. Bill Byrne and a delegation of 20 north Queensland leaders, including Charters Towers mayor Frank Beveridge, will meet potential importers in Guandong Province during the five-day trade mission starting on Wednesday. He said China has a rapidly growing middle class that preferred to eat fresh, high-quality produce.

  • Global experts to advise on banana threat AAP - Wed, Apr 15, 2015 10:48 AM NZST

    Two international experts will travel to Australia to help contain the disease threatening to wipe out the Queensland banana industry. Federal minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce announced on Tuesday that Professor Altus Viljoen from South Africa and Dr Chih-Ping Chao, Director of the Taiwan Banana Research Institute, will attend the Banana Industry Congress in Melbourne in June. The soil-borne fungus is the same disease that destroyed the Northern Territory's banana industry in the 1990s.

  • SA to get almond research facility AAP - Tue, Apr 14, 2015 9:30 AM NZST

    Australia's fastest growing horticultural sector will soon have its own National Centre of Excellence in South Australia's Riverland. State Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell says the SA government has ...

  • Qld banana growers to get disease update AAP - Tue, Apr 14, 2015 5:32 AM NZST

    Queensland authorities are meeting with banana growers to discuss the seriousness of destructive fungus outbreaks for their industry. The soil-borne Panama TR4 fungus, which destroyed the NT's banana industry in the 1990s, has been found on two banana farms in far north Queensland. Biosecurity Queensland and the Australian Banana Growers Council are meeting the state's growers to talk about the disease and biosecurity measures this week. Authorities have already destroyed 16,000 banana plants at a farm in Tully to stop the fungus from spreading.

  • Feed pollution down at Tassal's fish farms AAP - Mon, Apr 13, 2015 6:28 PM NZST
    Feed pollution down at Tassal's fish farms

    Pollution generated by Tassal's salmon farms in Tasmania has fallen 15 per cent, the company says, amid opposition to the environmental impact of the expanding industry. Critics have claimed waste and uneaten feed from salmon farms are polluting waterways, and the Tasmanian Abalone Council has said that is causing a reduction in the number of abalone that can be harvested. Tassal, which operates a marine farm at Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast and five in the state's southeast, says nutrient emissions in 2014 were down 15 per cent from 2012. "This was driven by the improvement in the feed conversion ratio at our marine sites," Tassal said in its annual sustainability report.

  • Farmers struggling to capitalise on high demand Newstalk ZB - Mon, Apr 13, 2015 5:31 AM NZST

    North Canterbury farmers are taking drastic action and cutting into their core stock in an attempt to make it through winter.

  • Water, air quality concerns raise conflict AAP - Fri, Apr 10, 2015 4:01 PM NZST

    US lawsuits are challenging the livestock industry to change its ways, basing arguments on studies that increasingly show the impact that phosphorous, nitrates and bacteria from fertiliser and accumulated manure have on lakes and rivers, as well as air pollution that can be harmful to respiratory health. "I have a general care and concern for the state's water quality and I've personally invested my own dollars to install conservation nutrient retention practices on my farm," said Bill Couser, a fifth-generation Iowa farmer with 5,200 cows.

  • Drought expands across large parrt of US AAP - Fri, Apr 10, 2015 2:01 PM NZST

    US drought conditions have expanded amid weather that was warmer and drier across much of the country's west, but spring rain in the agricultural Midwest could improve conditions for farmers preparing for the corn and soybean growing season. Weekly data released by the National Drought Mitigation Centre shows moderate drought or worse covered 36.8 per cent of the US as of late last week, up nearly five percentage points from the previous week but slightly below 2014's levels.

  • Massive cattle business up for sale AAP - Fri, Apr 10, 2015 1:34 PM NZST

    Australia's largest private landholders have put their cattle business up for sale amid strong overseas demand for local agriculture. The Adelaide-based S Kidman & Co is one of the country's largest beef producers with 200,000 cattle and pastoral leases covering 110,000 square kilometres in cental Australia. The Kidmans are the descendants of company founder and iconic pastoralist Sir Sidney Kidman, known as the cattle king, who once owned or controlled as much as 280,000 square kilometres of Australian land. S Kidman & Co owns 11 outback cattle stations including Anna Creek Station in South Australia, which at 23,000 square kilometres is world's largest.

  • Katter calls for banana compo scheme AAP - Fri, Apr 10, 2015 12:36 PM NZST
    Katter calls for banana compo scheme

    The Abbott government must compensate Queensland banana farmers affected by a devastating disease, federal MP Bob Katter says. Mr Katter's electorate covers the two infected sites, and he says a compensation scheme must be part of efforts to contain the outbreak. Dennis Howe owns a banana farm near the affected Mareeba site, and says he faces an enormous bill to try to protect his property from infection. Mr Howe backed Mr Katter's call for a compensation scheme, and agreed it would aid efforts to contain the disease.

  • Rockstar economy strong but not without threat Newstalk ZB - Fri, Apr 10, 2015 5:15 AM NZST

    Paul Bloxham says the only blip for the rockstar economy is dairy prices, but the decline doesn't seem to be seeping through into the rest of the economy.

  • Second Qld farm hit by banana disease AAP - Thu, Apr 9, 2015 9:28 PM NZST
    Second Qld farm hit by banana disease

    Queensland's $600 million banana industry has been rocked by a second outbreak of the devastating Panama disease. "The entire farm will be surveyed and any infected plants that are detected will be destroyed," chief biosecurity officer Dr Jim Thompson said. The farm is about 200km northwest of a Tully farm, where the disease was first detected in March. Authorities have destroyed 16,000 banana plants at the Tully farm in an effort to stop the spread of the soil-borne Panama TR4 disease.

  • Struggling farmers offered bank alternative Newstalk ZB - Thu, Apr 9, 2015 8:59 AM NZST

    Fonterra has launched a scheme to prevent farmers getting into too much bank debt and find alternative sources of investment.

  • Former DLP senator sets up new party AAP - Wed, Apr 8, 2015 6:04 PM NZST
    Former DLP senator sets up new party

    Independent senator John Madigan is seeking to register a new political party with the aim of getting a better deal for farmers and manufacturers. The Victorian senator was elected as a Democratic Labour Party member in 2010 but quit the party in September 2014. The former blacksmith has now applied to the electoral commission to register John Madigan's Manufacturing and Farming Party. "Australia must again recognise that our farmers and manufacturers are the backbone of our economy," he said on Wednesday.

  • Some dairy employers exploiting migrant workers Newstalk ZB - Fri, Apr 3, 2015 9:04 PM NZDT

    A migrant union coordinator believes dairy industry employers are taking advantage of the culture of migrant workers when exploiting them.

  • Climate pledge deadline slow but promising AAP - Thu, Apr 2, 2015 11:01 AM NZDT

    A rough deadline for Tuesday saw only 33 out of 195 countries submit pledges for tackling greenhouse gases under UN climate talks scheduled to conclude just over eight months from now. Among major carbon emitters, the United States, the European Union and Russia put their positions on the table as expected, along with Mexico, the first emerging country to do so. "While there has been some progress in what governments are proposing for the post-2020 period, with several countries moving from 'inadequate' to 'medium,' proposals are still a long way from being 2C compatible," said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, a monitoring group. "The delay (in submitting pledges) is going to be a problem," cautioned Celia Gautier of the French branch of Climate Action Network (CAN), an umbrella group of NGOs.

  • Dairy farmers protest milk quota removal AAP - Wed, Apr 1, 2015 12:52 PM NZDT

    Yvan Deknudt's dairy farm has been leaking money and he believes that things are set to get worse imminently. On Wednesday, the 28-country EU finally brings the curtain down on one of its most contentious farm policies - milk quotas will be no more. "With quotas being lifted, we're really scared that production is going to explode and we won't be able to pay our costs anymore," said the Belgian farmer after his 30km drive to Brussels to join a rally with a group of die-hard milk farmers from 16 countries. It was announced in 2003, and quota levels have been slowly raised in recent years to get farmers used to producing more milk.

  • European milk a threat to dairy industry Newstalk ZB - Wed, Apr 1, 2015 7:17 AM NZDT

    From today, the European Union has a deregulated milk production industry, meaning the quotas which have restricted the sector are now gone.

  • CSG action call after NSW poll AAP - Tue, Mar 31, 2015 7:42 PM NZDT

    Conservation groups have rejected claims coal seam gas and mining were not critical issues in the NSW election, describing results in northern NSW as a "political earthquake". The Lock the Gate Alliance says the fall of Ballina and possibly Lismore - traditional Nationals strongholds - to the Greens had demonstrated the deep community disquiet about CSG. "The NSW government has an overwhelming mandate to change direction and act to protect water, farmland and people from the impacts of coal and gas mining," Lock the Gate national co-ordinator Phil Laird said on Tuesday. NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson said after Saturday's election that, while CSG was the critical issue in Ballina and Lismore, coal mining and CSG were not key factors in rural electorates elsewhere in the state.

  • A2 Milk starts trading on ASX AAP - Tue, Mar 31, 2015 2:39 PM NZDT

    Shares in New Zealand-based milk supplier a2 Milk Company have slipped slightly after they started trading on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). "The ASX listing, in conjunction with the listing on the main board of the New Zealand Securities Exchange, provides a closer alignment between our capital markets profile and our current business," a2 Milk managing director Geoffrey Babidge said on Tuesday.

  • 16,000 banana plants to be poisoned AAP - Tue, Mar 31, 2015 9:32 AM NZDT

    Authorities will begin destroying 16,000 banana plants at a far north Queensland farm in an effort to stop the spread of a devastating disease. The farm at Tully, south of Cairns, has been under quarantine since early March when the soil-borne Panama TR4 disease was detected there, sparking fears for Queensland's $570 million industry. It's the same disease that destroyed the Northern Territory's banana industry in the 1990s. Biosecurity Queensland's chief officer Dr Jim Thompson says officers will inject chemicals into 16,000 plants to kill them.

  • Japan uses climate cash for coal plants AAP - Mon, Mar 30, 2015 4:01 PM NZDT

    Despite mounting protests, Japan continues to finance the building of coal-fired power plants with money earmarked for fighting climate change, with two new projects underway in India and Bangladesh, The Associated Press has found. The AP reported in December that Japan had counted $US1 billion ($A1.27 billion) in loans for coal plants in Indonesia as climate finance, angering critics who say such financing should be going to clean energy like solar and wind power. Japanese officials now say they are also counting $US630 million in loans for coal plants in Kudgi, India, and Matarbari, Bangladesh, as climate finance.

  • Synlait post hefty loss Newstalk ZB - Mon, Mar 30, 2015 9:57 AM NZDT

    The gloss is rubbing off white gold.

  • Fonterra beefing up Australian business AAP - Thu, Mar 26, 2015 12:14 AM NZDT
    Fonterra beefing up Australian business

    New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra is renewing efforts to fix under-performing businesses in Australia. Chief executive Theo Spierings says despite market price volatility, the company remains committed to its strategy to grow its cash payout to shareholder farmers through converting more milk into higher-returning products by 2025. It's also likely to benefit from Australia's free trade agreement with China, which will phase out tariffs on Australian dairy products and the 15 per cent duty on infant formula. Fonterra operates 10 manufacturing sites across Australia, processing 1.7 billion litres of milk sourced locally each year.

  • DairyNZ concerned over low milk price Newstalk ZB - Wed, Mar 25, 2015 6:48 PM NZDT

    Industry body DairyNZ is advising farmers to focus on strong cashflow management following Fonterra's decision to cut dividend payments by five cents.