Rural News

  • Judge appointed to mediate sugar dispute AAP - 2 hours 39 minutes ago

    A former Supreme Court judge has been appointed to mediate an ongoing dispute between marketer Queensland Sugar Limited and mill owner Wilmar. Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne announced on Tuesday Richard Chesterman had agreed to hold discussions with the warring parties. Mr Byrne said QSL and Wilmar had agreed in principle to the mediation.

  • New cases of destructive plant pest in WA AAP - Mon, Feb 27, 2017 5:21 PM NZDT

    New cases of a destructive plant pest that has halted potato exports from Western Australia to the eastern states have been found in Perth. The tomato potato psyllid was recently found for the first time in Australia on crops in Perth. On Monday, WA's Department of Agriculture and Food said it had been found on commercial and backyard vegetable crops, a nursery, and on seedlings at three retail stores.

  • Can LatAm cloud forests boost hydropower? AAP - Mon, Feb 27, 2017 4:01 PM NZDT

    The mist-enshrouded cloud forest canopies dotting the mountains of Latin America have been degraded by encroaching cities and farms, but convincing hydropower operators to pay for their restoration could increase water flows and boost energy security, analysts say. Research done for the Cloud Forest Blue Energy Mechanism, an early-stage project being incubated by the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, indicates that restoring high-altitude cloud forests raises the quantity and quality of water flowing to hydropower plants, stabilising supplies and cutting maintenance costs by reducing sediment. "With climate change increasing, it's all the more important to try to see how there might be a win-win situation here... to have (forest) restoration and improved energy security," said Angela Falconer, senior analyst at the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI), which oversees the lab.

  • Boost to Indonesian live cattle trade AAP - Sat, Feb 25, 2017 6:09 PM NZDT
    Boost to Indonesian live cattle trade

    Northern Territory cattle producers hope Jakarta's move from four-month to year-long import permits will mean an end to cattle banking up in Australian paddocks and a frantic last minute search for other markets. An announcement of changed regulations for the live export market has coincided with Indonesian President Joko Widodo's arrival in Sydney on Saturday. Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce hailed the changes saying it would allow better business planning for Australian exporters, increase the range of cattle eligible for export and ultimately improve returns at the farm gate.

  • ACCC to seek stiffer penalties this year AAP - Fri, Feb 24, 2017 5:57 PM NZDT

    Australia's competition regulator has flagged it will seek larger penalties against big companies this year in order to effectively deter them from misconduct. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission plans to focus on unfair contracts for small businesses, and to target cartels and misconduct by large businesses in the health, construction and agriculture sectors, as part of its priorities for 2017. "One issue that continually emerges is whether the penalties against large businesses are enough of a deterrent and more than just the cost of doing business," chairman Rod Sims said at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event in Sydney.

  • Farmgate milk price may lift: MG AAP - Fri, Feb 24, 2017 4:20 PM NZDT

    The price that dairy processor Murray Goulburn pays farmers for their milk could improve in fiscal 2018 as the co-operative benefits from stronger prices for dairy commodities, and if seasonal conditions for farmers remain good. Murray Goulburn says that since last August, prices for dairy commodities - full-cream milk powder, skim milk powder, butter and cheddar - had improved towards their 10-year average. Better weather meant more milk available to dairy processors, Murray Goulburn chief executive Ari Mervis said on Friday.

  • Murray Goulburn expects improvement AAP - Fri, Feb 24, 2017 12:46 PM NZDT

    Dairy processor Murray Goulburn says the price that dairy farmers receive for their milk may improve given better seasonal conditions, current commodity pricing, and benefits from cost-cutting initiatives that the co-operative is undertaking. Murray Goulburn on Friday reported a first-half loss of $31.87 million, compared to a profit of $10 million a year earlier, after taking an impairment on its milk supply support package for dairy farmers, and making step-up payments to its milk suppliers. Excluding one-off items of $41.3 million, Murray Goulburn's net profit for the six months to December 31 fell six per cent to $9.4 million, from $10 million.

  • Murray Goulburn swings to half-year loss AAP - Fri, Feb 24, 2017 11:10 AM NZDT

    Murray Goulburn has suffered a half-year loss of $31.87 million after taking an impairment on its milk supply support package and making step-up payments to suppliers. The dairy co-operative was hit by ...

  • East coast halt on WA spud exports AAP - Thu, Feb 23, 2017 12:26 AM NZDT
    East coast halt on WA spud exports

    Potatoes from Western Australia cannot be exported to the east coast due to a plant pest, the state's Department of Agriculture and Food says. It can also attack plants from the convolvulaceae family, including nightshade, matrimony vine, field bindweed and sweet potato. DAFWA said NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland had introduced movement controls on the solanaceae and convolvulaceae families produced in WA.

  • Two in hospital after Vic chemical leak AAP - Wed, Feb 22, 2017 8:28 PM NZDT

    Two people have been taken to hospital and 20 workers evacuated from a factory after a chemical spill in Melbourne. A worker suffered burns after being sprayed in the face and hands by liquid ammonia in a Melbourne Bulla dairy foods factory just after 2pm on Wednesday, emergency services say. The worker aged in their 50s was taken to Dandenong Hospital in a stable condition, while a firefighter who was exposed during the clean up was also taken to hospital.

  • Farmers could get better milk price: Bega AAP - Wed, Feb 22, 2017 3:06 PM NZDT
    Farmers could get better milk price: Bega

    Bega Cheese has flagged the possibility that dairy processors could start paying farmers more for their milk later this year. "We would expect that if that commodity position prevails and indeed stabilises, you'll see farmgate price improvement later in the year, indeed more likely in the beginning of next financial year," Bega Cheese executive chairman Barry Irvin said on Wednesday. The Australian dairy sector was plunged into crisis last year, after dairy processors Murray Goulburn and Fonterra unexpectedly cut their farmgate milk prices as dairy commodity prices plunged on a glut of global milk supply.

  • Better dairy prices help lift Bega profit AAP - Wed, Feb 22, 2017 1:53 PM NZDT
    Better dairy prices help lift Bega profit

    Improved global dairy commodity prices and a lift in first-half sales in the nutritional business have helped lift dairy processor Bega Cheese's first-half net profit by 8.2 per cent. Bega's profit for the six months to December 25, 2016, was $15.7 million. Excluding a $7.1 million inventory impairment related to its Bemore partnership - a 50:50 joint-venture with Blackmores to sell infant formula to China and Australia - Bega's profit was up 39 per cent to $20.7 million.

  • Bega profit up as dairy prices improve AAP - Wed, Feb 22, 2017 12:42 PM NZDT

    Dairy processor Bega Cheese has lifted its first-half net profit by 8.2 per cent to $15.7 million as global dairy commodity prices improved and first-half sales in the nutritional business increased. Bega ...

  • SA premier backs bulk buy energy plan AAP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 4:53 PM NZDT

    South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has urged the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to green light a proposal by some of the state's biggest electricity users to buy power as a group to cut costs and ensure stability of supply. The group includes companies in the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors, and represents about 10 per cent of the state's electricity consumption. Mr Weatherill says the ACCC should relax any rules that might prevent the proposal going ahead, saying it would also lead to greater competition in the energy sector.

  • Signs of promise for trash incinerator AAP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 1:01 PM NZDT

    Oslo's main trash incinerator has shown promising results in the world's first experiment to capture greenhouse gases from the fumes of burning rubbish as a new way to slow climate change. If built at full scale, however, the technology would be a very costly way to limit carbon dioxide emissions as part of an international agreement to curb global warming reached by almost 200 nations at a summit in Paris in 2015. It had been unclear if the same could be applied at an incinerator for municipal and household waste.

  • No private appetite for coal, experts say AAP - Mon, Feb 20, 2017 2:12 PM NZDT

    The Turnbull government has been warned the private sector has no appetite to invest in new coal power and that it will never be viable without carbon capture and storage. The problem is the ongoing uncertainty created by "the lack of clear climate change policy that's stuck" from either side of federal politics, Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood says. The government is exploring how it can allow the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants and carbon capture and storage, with the latter requiring legislation.

  • Massive storm thrashes Southern California AAP - Sun, Feb 19, 2017 10:52 PM NZDT
    Massive storm thrashes Southern California

    Southern California is cleaning up after its biggest storm in years unleashed a wave of rain and snow that killed at least three people and triggered flooding, mudslides, high winds and power outages. Vital highways and railways were shut down and sinkholes opened on main roads under the heaviest rainfall in the drought-stricken region in at least five years, according to the National Weather Service. In one of wettest spots near Santa Barbara, over 25cm of rain fell on Friday with several other stations in Southern California reporting at least 23cm, said meteorologist Patrick Burke of the Weather Prediction Center.

  • Qld govt to seek sugar report through FOI AAP - Sun, Feb 19, 2017 1:12 PM NZDT

    The Queensland government will make a Freedom of Information request to obtain what it says is a crucial report in determining how to resolve issues in the state's sugar industry. The Productivity Commission's final report was handed to the federal government on November 15, but the Turnbull government has repeatedly refused any requests to release it. State Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne has urged federal counterpart Barnaby Joyce to release the report immediately, saying it would be "an act of economic vandalism" for any further industry regulations to be introduced without knowing what it contains.

  • Xenophon wants emissions scheme set up AAP - Sun, Feb 19, 2017 12:21 PM NZDT

    A key Senate crossbencher wants the Turnbull government to look seriously at an emissions intensity scheme as a way of making Australia's electricity supply more stable. "More and more experts are saying that that is the best way to reduce power prices and ensure security of energy supply," Nick Xenophon told ABC TV on Sunday. The government ruled out such a scheme, which would make electricity generators pay for the pollution they cause in making power, a day after suggesting a review of its climate change policies may consider one.

  • Barnaby Joyce meets with Qld cane farmers AAP - Sat, Feb 18, 2017 5:32 AM NZDT

    Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will meet with Queensland cane farmers this weekend to discuss their ongoing dispute with international agribusiness Wilmar Sugar. Mr Joyce will visit the north Queensland ...

  • APRA sees financial risk in climate change AAP - Fri, Feb 17, 2017 5:39 PM NZDT

    Climate change already poses significant financial risks and can no longer be viewed as a purely ethical, environmental or long-term issue, a board member of Australia's financial regulator says. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority's Geoff Summerhayes told an Insurance Council of Australia Annual Forum in Sydney on Friday that APRA is considering widespread testing of financial systems for signs of stress due to climate change.

  • Poland tests EU patience in climate talks AAP - Fri, Feb 17, 2017 2:01 PM NZDT

    Poland is threatening to challenge a draft European Union climate law in court, EU documents seen by Reuters show, in its latest move to slow an EU campaign against global warming that Warsaw sees as a menace to its coal-powered energy industry. In what Polish diplomats describe as leverage for talks now under way on how to spread the burden of EU climate goals among member states, Warsaw is opposing the legal basis for the rules - a battle it could take to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). It puts Poland at odds with the rest of the 28-nation bloc, deepening fears in Brussels for the EU's ability to take the lead if US President Donald Trump pulls back, as he has warned, from global diplomacy to tackle climate change.

  • Drones take off on Victorian farms AAP - Thu, Feb 16, 2017 6:38 PM NZDT

    Victorian farmer Wayne Lording sits on his verandah, sips a cuppa and sends his drone to check the horses and cows. A qualified helicopter pilot, Mr Lording is also building Australia's first agriculture-specific drone. "Farmers have got to look at better and more cost-effective ways to manage their properties and drones are the best way to do it" Mr Lording told AAP on Thursday.

  • South32 eyes improving China demand AAP - Thu, Feb 16, 2017 4:18 PM NZDT
    South32 eyes improving China demand

    South32 expects its manganese and coal businesses to be among the beneficiaries of improved demand from China, even though prices are likely to remain volatile. "We do expect that China will continue down the path of looking for a cleaner climate and looking for more efficiency and more productive value adding capacity," chief executive Graham Kerr told reporters. While iron ore prices nearly doubled, prices for manganese and metallurgical coal nearly tripled.

  • G20 urged to ditch fossil fuel subsidies AAP - Thu, Feb 16, 2017 12:01 PM NZDT

    Investors and insurers with more than $2.8 trillion ($A3.6 billion) in assets under management have called on the Group of 20 economies to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 despite US doubts about climate change. G20 nations should work "to accelerate green investment and reduce climate risk", they wrote on the eve of a two-day meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Germany to prepare a summit in Hamburg in July. The summit should set a clear timeline "for the full and equitable phase-out by all G20 members of all fossil fuel subsidies by 2020," the 16 signatories wrote.

  • Veg pest new to Aust found on WA crops AAP - Wed, Feb 15, 2017 6:19 PM NZDT
    Veg pest new to Aust found on WA crops

    A destructive plant pest has been found for the first time in Australia in Perth, and could pose a significant threat to vegetable production. The Department of Agriculture and Food WA has confirmed the presence of the tomato potato psyllid at six properties in the Perth area. The psyllid attacks a range of plants including potato, sweet potato, tomato, eggplant, capsicum, chilli and tamarillo, and is a significant production pest in the US, Central America and New Zealand.

  • Baby formula fuels a2 Milk's profit growth AAP - Wed, Feb 15, 2017 2:44 PM NZDT

    Strong demand for infant formula, especially in China, has helped dairy processor a2 Milk Company make a larger profit in six months than it did last financial year. The company's net profit of $NZ39.4 million ($A36.9 million) in the half year to December 31 was up from $NZ10.1 million in the same period a year earlier, and compares to a $NZ30.4 million profit in the 2015/16 financial year. The profit growth reflects an outstanding performance in Australia, New Zealand and China, driven mainly by demand for a2 Platinum milk formula, the company said.

  • a2 Milk HY net profit up almost four fold AAP - Wed, Feb 15, 2017 9:03 AM NZDT

    The a2 Milk Company's first-half net profit has almost quadrupled and is higher than its 2016 full-year profit, driven primarily by continuing strong growth in demand for its a2 Platinum infant formula. The company says its net profit for the six months to December 31 of $NZ39.4 million (A36.9 million) was 290 per cent higher than its result for the same time the previous year.

  • Latin America's resilience put to the test AAP - Tue, Feb 14, 2017 4:01 PM NZDT

    Faltering growth in many Latin American nations could aggravate the impact of disasters and other shocks on their people, development experts warn. Alongside clinging onto gains in lifting people out of poverty as some governments shave social spending, the region faces multiple challenges - from violent crime spurring migration from Central America, to drought in Bolivia and help for conflict-hit parts of Colombia after its recent peace deal. "Venezuela is a crisis out of proportion to what we've seen in this hemisphere for a long, long time," said Luisa Villegas, a senior program director with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF).

  • Ridley sees dairy confidence improving AAP - Tue, Feb 14, 2017 12:56 PM NZDT

    Ridley Corporation believes confidence is returning to the dairy industry after difficult trading conditions in the sector dented the animal feed supplier's core first-half earnings. Ridley on Tuesday reported a 37 per cent lift in net profit for the six months to December 31 to $14.1 million. Ridley's earnings from the dairy sector were at an all-time high in the corresponding period a year ago, but volumes were down 32,000 tonnes in the first half of 2016/17.

  • Herringbone, Rhodes Beckett stores close AAP - Mon, Feb 13, 2017 6:17 PM NZDT

    Seven stores have closed and 13 people have been laid off since Herringbone and Rhodes and Beckett went into voluntary administration. After checking the books of all 29 stores in the Australia, Cor Cordis administrators announced on Monday they had closed three Herringbone and four Rhodes and Beckett stores. Last week Cor Cordis administrator Bruno Secatore said unsustainably high overheads, unfavourable leases and the retail market climate contributed to the brands' financial difficulties.

  • Murray Goulburn boss to meet dairy farmers AAP - Mon, Feb 13, 2017 6:16 PM NZDT
    Murray Goulburn boss to meet dairy farmers

    The new chief executive of Murray Goulburn, Ari Mervis, is set to meet with dairy farmers over the coming weeks, after starting in his new role as head of the troubled dairy processor on Monday. Mr Mervis says he has made it a priority to engage with as many suppliers, employees and stakeholders as possible. "I am delighted that I will have the opportunity to lead this important Australian business, and I look forward to visiting each site and region over the coming weeks to meet as many of our stakeholders as possible," Mr Mervis said in a statement.

  • Ore inspiring debate offers coal comfort AAP - Thu, Feb 9, 2017 6:15 PM NZDT

    Malcolm Turnbull says South Australia's blackouts are evidence of Labor's flawed economic and climate policy while the opposition blamed the federal minister and electricity regulator. About 40,000 Adelaide properties lost power for half an hour at the end of a 42-degree day on Wednesday after the Australian Energy Market Operator ordered "load shedding" when demand spiked and generation dropped. The prime minister said Labor's "ideological approach" to renewable energy was turning off the lights in SA.

  • Crop-destroying caterpillar's rapid spread AAP - Thu, Feb 9, 2017 2:01 PM NZDT

    Scientists tracking a crop-destroying caterpillar known as armyworm say it is now spreading rapidly across mainland Africa and could reach tropical Asia and the Mediterranean in the next few years, threatening agricultural trade. In research released on Monday, scientists at the Britain-based Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) said the pest, which had not previously been established outside the Americas, is now expected to spread "to the limits of suitable African habitat" within a few years. The caterpillar destroys young maize plants, attacking their growing points and burrowing into the cobs.

  • Rhodes & Beckett, Herribone jobs to go AAP - Tue, Feb 7, 2017 9:12 PM NZDT

    Job losses are imminent for Australian workers at fashion retailers Rhodes and Beckett and Herringbone. The brands' German majority owner van Laack GmbH admits some of the stores have been "underperforming" and called in voluntary administrators on Monday to find a new buyer. Cor Cordis administrator Bruno Secatore said unsustainably high overheads, unfavourable leases and the retail market climate contributed to the brands' financial difficulties.