Rural News

  • Australia keen on quinoa-powered future AAP - 8 hours ago

    It began as a hard-to-pronounce hipster health fad but quinoa may one day make Australia a global superfood superpower. A worldwide boom in consumption of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has sparked interest in growing the high-protein, high-priced cereal in Australia and now agriculture researchers have set up trials around the country to investigate the potential for high-volume local production. Project leader Richard Snowball, from the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA), is overseeing tests of quinoa crops in NSW, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

  • Medical marijuana biotechs join forces AAP - Tue, Jul 28, 2015 7:27 PM NZST

    PhytoTech Medical and MMJ Bioscience have joined forces to become the first Australian-listed medical marijuana company to control pharmaceutical hemp from farm to pharmacy counter. The re-branded MMJ PhytoTech will control the complete supply chain from cultivation to distribution after Phytotech raised $4.8 million to buy MMJ Bioscience. MMJ PhytoTech chief executive Andreas Gedeon said the merger made the company one of the only serious players in the medical marijuana market.

  • Anatara set to target Europe, US markets AAP - Tue, Jul 28, 2015 3:41 PM NZST

    Biotech Anatara Lifesciences, which is working to treat diarrhoea in farm animals, is set to target markets in Europe and the US. Detach is a natural, non-antibiotic treatment for diarrhoea in pigs and other farm animals. "The combined $9 million raised will allow Anatara to move into both Europe and the US markets in parallel, as well as target the larger Asian markets earlier than originally forecast," Anatara chairman Dr Mel Bridges said on Tuesday.

  • Australian medical marijuana merger AAP - Tue, Jul 28, 2015 2:08 PM NZST

    PhytoTech Medical has completed its merger with MMJ Bioscience in a move that will allow the Australian-listed group to become a farm-to-pharmaceutical medical marijuana company. The re-branded MMJ PhytoTech Limited will control the complete supply chain from cultivation to distribution after Phytotech raised $4.8 million in an oversubscribed shareholder placement to acquire MMJ.

  • Sugar and dairy among TPP sticking points AAP - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 4:08 PM NZST

    Sugar and dairy are among some of the final sticking points as 12 Pacific countries move closer to sealing a free trade deal, the trade minister says. Andrew Robb is in Hawaii this week for what could ...

  • Robots central to farm revolution: report AAP - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 1:15 PM NZST

    Robots will be central to the next farming revolution in Australia, leading scientists predict. In coming years robots, drones and sensor networks will help farmers gather data to make better decisions and improve profitability, according to the Australian Council of Learned Academies report on the nation's agricultural future released on Monday. "Automation will continue to grow and robots will harvest and prune, drones will survey fences in pastoral leases and check for problems in high-valued crops," the report said.

  • JFK gives animals first class treatment AAP - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 2:23 PM NZST

    Jet-setting stallions and high-flying hounds at New York's Kennedy Airport can look forward to a new luxury terminal that will handle the more than 70,000 animals flying in and out every year. The ARK at JFK, its name inspired by Noah's biblical vessel, will more than measure up to terminals for humans: Horses and cows will occupy sleek, climate-controlled stalls with showers, and dogs will lounge in hotel suites featuring flat-screen TVs.

  • Panama-affected Qld farmers want more help AAP - Tue, Jul 21, 2015 8:25 PM NZST
    Panama-affected Qld farmers want more help

    Two Queensland banana farmers affected by a devastating fungal disease are still out of pocket despite being awarded more than $650,000 in assistance, their lawyer says. The Robsons' property in Tully and the Reppels' farm in Mareeba were quarantined earlier this year after testing positive for soil-borne fungus Panama Tropical Race 4. While the positive result at the Mareeba farm was later proved false, the growers have now been compensated a combined figure of $684,243 - funded by the federal and state governments, and the Australian Banana Growers' Council.

  • Qld banana farmers want more assistance AAP - Tue, Jul 21, 2015 6:39 PM NZST
    Qld banana farmers want more assistance

    Two Queensland banana farmers affected by a devastating fungal disease are still out of pocket despite being awarded more than $650,000 in assistance, their lawyer says. The Robsons' property in Tully ...

  • Drought hits quality of US winter wheat AAP - Tue, Jul 21, 2015 2:02 PM NZST

    Intense drought conditions have shrunk the kernels and disrupted the proteins of winter wheat crops in Montana, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, the region that produces a fifth of the US harvest. The National Agricultural Statistics Service classified a large percentage of the region's winter wheat as below-average quality in July. Farmers in the Northwest are nervous that the uncharacteristically low quality of their product could slash the crop's already declining prices.

  • A2 Milk rejects takeover offer AAP - Mon, Jul 20, 2015 10:38 AM NZST

    New Zealand's A2 Milk Company has rejected a takeover offer from Australia's Freedom Foods and US dairy giant Dean Foods, but has left the door open to further talks. A2 said, in a statement on Monday, that its board of directors did not consider the takeover proposal "compelling" but said it was willing to discuss the offer with Freedom and Dean Foods. Meanwhile, A2 also said it expected to triple its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to $NZ12 million ($A10.61 million) during the 2015/16 financial year.

  • (Update for 'Fonterra cuts over 500 jobs') Newstalk ZB - Fri, Jul 17, 2015 5:15 AM NZST

    The Green Party is extending its sympathies to Fonterra staff facing redundancy, but is blaming the Government for the predicament.

  • Farmers eager for drones, but no rules yet AAP - Thu, Jul 16, 2015 4:01 PM NZST

    Mike Geske wants a drone. Watching a flying demonstration on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the Missouri farmer envisions using an unmanned aerial vehicle to monitor the irrigation pipes on his farm - a job he now pays three men to do. "The savings on labor and fuel would just be phenomenal," Geske says, watching as a small white drone hovers over a nearby corn field and transmits detailed pictures of the growing stalks to an iPad.

  • Fonterra cuts over 500 jobs Newstalk ZB - Thu, Jul 16, 2015 2:10 PM NZST

    523 Fonterra staff members will loose their jobs.

  • Dairy price drop 'disastrous' AAP - Thu, Jul 16, 2015 9:53 AM NZST

    Dairy product prices have sunk in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, paced by cheddar and whole milk powder, reflecting a sombre outlook. The GDT average winning prices sank 10.7 per cent to $US2082 ...

  • US South getting its first big windfarm AAP - Wed, Jul 15, 2015 2:01 PM NZST

    On a vast tract of old North Carolina farmland, crews are getting ready to build something the US South has never seen: a commercial-scale wind energy farm. It would be the first large onshore wind farm in a region with light, fluctuating winds that has long been a dead zone for wind power.

  • NSW mine is 'a threat to all farming' AAP - Tue, Jul 14, 2015 10:28 PM NZST
    NSW mine is 'a threat to all farming'

    A giant coal mine approved for construction beside premium farmlands shows no farm in Australia is safe, says the new head of the NSW farming lobby. Derek Schoen, who was elected as president of the NSW Farmers Association on Tuesday, has committed his organisation to having the approval for the Shenhua Watermark coal mine overturned, saying it is the most important challenge now facing farmers. "We're going to leave no stone unturned to try and get this decision overturned," Mr Schoen told AAP.

  • Baird under pressure over NSW mine AAP - Tue, Jul 14, 2015 6:09 PM NZST
    Baird under pressure over NSW mine

    NSW Premier Mike Baird is resisting a push by federal Nationals and farmers to stop a Chinese-backed coal mine. Federal Agriculture Minister and Nationals deputy leader Barnaby Joyce is leading the charge against the Shenhua mine, near Gunnedah, which is awaiting final planning approval from the NSW government. The NSW Farmers Association on Tuesday added their weight to the campaign, passing a resolution directly supporting Mr Joyce and imploring the state and federal governments to "take immediate action" to halt the approval.

  • Baird faces pressure over Shenhua mine AAP - Tue, Jul 14, 2015 3:38 PM NZST
    Baird faces pressure over Shenhua mine

    NSW Premier Mike Baird is resisting a push by federal Nationals and farmers to stop a Chinese-backed coal mine. Federal Agriculture Minister and Nationals deputy leader Barnaby Joyce is leading the charge against the Shenhua mine near Gunnedah, which is awaiting final planning approval from the NSW government. The NSW Farmers Association on Tuesday added their weight to the campaign, passing a resolution directly supporting Mr Joyce and imploring the state and federal governments to "take immediate action" to halt the approval.

  • Baird points to Shenhua mining approval AAP - Tue, Jul 14, 2015 3:02 PM NZST
    Baird points to Shenhua mining approval

    NSW Premier Mike Baird has indicated he will approve the controversial $1 billion Watermark coal mine, saying he must rely on scientific advice. Farmers on Tuesday urged Mr Baird not to grant operator ...

  • Parched paddies hit Thai junta's economy AAP - Tue, Jul 14, 2015 3:01 PM NZST

    Ranong Rachasing would normally be in her fields at this time of year, toiling in ankle-deep water to make her rice paddies bloom through knowledge honed by years of cultivating Thailand's most celebrated export. It is the most severe drought I've ever seen," she told AFP while standing in a cracked field in Bang Pla Ma district, Suphanburi province, a two-hour drive north of Bangkok. Thailand's vital rice belt is being battered by one of the worst droughts in living memory, forcing impoverished farmers deeper into debt and heaping fresh pain on an already weak economy -- seen as the junta's Achilles heel.

  • Dairy prices still weak AAP - Mon, Jul 13, 2015 1:48 PM NZST
    Dairy prices still weak

    Dairy producer Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory still expects dairy prices to remain weak, with no improvement until late 2015 at the earliest. Warrnambool Cheese, which is 88 per cent owned by Canadian dairy giant Saputo and 11 per cent owned by Japan's Lion and Kirin, had said in May that weak international dairy prices would put pressure on the company's profitability in fiscal 2016. "Currently, and in line with our expectations, dairy prices remain weak," Warrnambool chairman Lino Saputo said in an annual general meeting speech on Monday.

  • Financial system 'ignoring climate risk' AAP - Mon, Jul 13, 2015 2:07 AM NZST

    Australia's financial system is ill-prepared for the impacts of climate change, an issue ignored in the Abbott government's inquiry led by David Murray. It says although several submissions made to the financial system inquiry in 2014 referred to climate risk, its final report made no mention of the issue. "This risk deserves closer examination by our policy markers and financial regulators," Climate Institute CEO John Connor says.

  • Federal govt defends wind farm blocking AAP - Sun, Jul 12, 2015 4:40 PM NZST
    Federal govt defends wind farm blocking

    Labor says the nation's clean energy bank will be left to fund "flying saucers" after being told by the government not to invest in wind energy projects. The $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has been ordered to focus on new technologies instead of wind farms under a revised mandate drafted by the government. The government says the change is not new but came as part the deal over the renewable energy target reached with Senate crossbenchers in June.

  • Government defends wind farm investment AAP - Sun, Jul 12, 2015 2:12 PM NZST
    Government defends wind farm investment

    Environment Minister Greg Hunt has lashed out at reports he was left out of a decision to order the nation's clean energy bank not to invest in wind farms. The federal government has mandated the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation to focus on new and emerging technologies over wind power projects. Mr Hunt says the changed mandate is not new, but came part of the deal over the renewable energy target reached with the crossbenchers in June.

  • Shenhua mine approval won't change: Robb AAP - Sun, Jul 12, 2015 12:12 PM NZST
    Shenhua mine approval won't change: Robb

    Senior minister Andrew Robb says the federal government won't be changing its mind over the $1 billion Shenhua coal mine in Barnaby Joyce's NSW electorate. Mr Robb says he can understand why the agriculture minister is upset over the approval of the Watermark mine near Gunnedah, saying "if it is next door to you, I wouldn't like it much either".

  • Joyce backed over stopping mine AAP - Fri, Jul 10, 2015 7:00 PM NZST
    Joyce backed over stopping mine

    A second minister has come out against a controversial Chinese coal mine as Barnaby Joyce rebuffs Tony Abbott and is pressing the NSW government to stop the project. Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash is rallying behind the agriculture minister amid the furore over the government's approval of the $1 billion Shenhua-operated Watermark mine near Gunnedah, which Mr Joyce has labelled "ridiculous". The NSW Nationals senator told AAP she "completely" supported Mr Joyce in stating what was "absolutely obvious".

  • Jones made inaccurate climate claims: ACMA AAP - Fri, Jul 10, 2015 5:05 PM NZST

    Broadcaster Alan Jones made inaccurate claims about climate change in a 2013 commentary on the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the media watchdog has ruled. The Australian ...

  • Battle for control of breast milk AAP - Fri, Jul 10, 2015 3:01 PM NZST

    Going for as much as $US4 ($A5.37) per ounce, breast milk is a hot commodity that is emerging as a surprisingly cutthroat industry, one that US states are seeking to regulate amid a battle for control between nonprofit and for-profit banks that supply hospital neonatal units. The debate among the for-profit and nonprofit organisations can be sharp-elbowed. It centres on whose processes result in the safest milk for premature babies in neonatal intensive care units, which need the milk if a mother has difficulty producing enough or the child has trouble latching.

  • PM backs Joyce despite anger over mine AAP - Fri, Jul 10, 2015 12:21 PM NZST
    PM backs Joyce despite anger over mine

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott has again excused Barnaby Joyce's outburst over a Chinese coal mine in his NSW electorate, saying he respects the agriculture minister's "compassion and commitment". It's the second time the prime minister has gone in to bat for Mr Joyce, who's labelled the federal government's approval this week of the $1 billion Shenhua-operated Watermark coal mine as "ridiculous". Mr Joyce has now written to NSW premier Mike Baird about the project near Gunnedah, which must be given final approval by the state government.

  • Joyce opposes mine as minister, not MP AAP - Fri, Jul 10, 2015 11:13 AM NZST
    Joyce opposes mine as minister, not MP

    Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is defending his "world has gone mad" outburst over his government's decision to approve a Chinese coalmine in his NSW electorate. Mr Joyce has written to NSW premier Mike Baird to plead his case and try to stop the project near Gunnedah, which must be given the final tick by the state government. The National Farmers' Federation also has serious concerns about the mine's approval.

  • Joyce to pressure NSW over Shenhua mine AAP - Fri, Jul 10, 2015 9:04 AM NZST
    Joyce to pressure NSW over Shenhua mine

    The NSW premier can expect a call from federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, who wants him to stop the controversial $1 billion Shenhua coal mine. Mr Joyce is side-stepping federal colleagues over his government's decision to approve the mine, near prime agricultural land in his NSW electorate. Mr Joyce is at odds with the prime minister over the issue, with Tony Abbott arguing it was possible for agriculture and mining to coexist on the land.

  • Business backs parts of agriculture plan AAP - Sun, Jul 5, 2015 5:48 PM NZST

    Business has backed the Abbott government's plans to invest in agricultural infrastructure and reduce red tape. "The ACCC already has a broad remit and responsibility to pursue competition issues, including those facing the agriculture sector," chief executive Jennifer Westacott said in a statement on Sunday.

  • Murray Goulburn trust makes positive debut AAP - Fri, Jul 3, 2015 6:20 PM NZST

    A special purpose funding vehicle linked to Australia's largest dairy company, Murray Goulburn, has had a positive debut on the Australian share market. The MG Unit Trust is a special purpose funding vehicle that will allow external, non-farmer investors to invest in Murray Goulburn. Murray Goulburn has raised $500 million in new capital from non-farmer investors in the MG Unit Trust, and from an issue of more shares to supplier shareholders.

  • Construction of big wind turbines begins AAP - Fri, Jul 3, 2015 1:56 PM NZST
    Construction of big wind turbines begins

    A $50 million wind farm to be built in northwest Victoria will boast the biggest turbines in Australia, with a rotor diameter of 117 metres. Wind energy company Windlab has started construction of the wind farm at Coonooer Bridge, 80km northwest of Bendigo. Each of the six Danish-designed wind turbines will generate around 13,000 MWhs (megawatt hours) of electricity each year.