Rural News

  • 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.

  • Fonterra interim profit dips 16 per cent AAP - Wed, Mar 25, 2015 1:18 PM NZDT
    Fonterra interim profit dips 16 per cent

    Fonterra has affirmed its milk payout forecast and lowered guidance for dividends after posting a 16 per cent drop in first-half profit it says reflected "tough conditions in dairy". The world's biggest dairy exporter affirmed the forecast payout for the current season at $NZ4.70 per kilogram of milk solids, down from a record $NZ8.40/kgMS last season. Chairman John Wilson said not only were conditions tough but it was also having to generate profit on inventory made in the previous financial year when the cost of milk was higher and sold in the first quarter of the current year, when global dairy prices were falling.

  • Farmers hoping for boost in Fonterra result Newstalk ZB - Wed, Mar 25, 2015 5:10 AM NZDT

    Farmers are hopeful, but not being unrealistic about this morning's payout update from Fonterra.

  • Ireland looks forward to dairy boom AAP - Mon, Mar 23, 2015 4:01 PM NZDT

    The European Union lifts milk quotas on April 1, and Ireland is looking forward to a radical shake-up of its farming sector that will boost dairy output by 50 per cent over five years. Exporters are aiming to expand sales of Irish milk and cheese in a boom that would make Ireland the fastest growing dairy producer in the world. "Good riddance is what I'll say about the quotas," said Mike Magan, a dairy farmer in County Longford in central Ireland. The quotas end on March 31, marking "the most fundamental change to Irish agriculture in a generation", Irish agriculture minister Simon Coveney told AFP.

  • Banana growers hopeful of beating disease AAP - Fri, Mar 20, 2015 9:03 PM NZDT

    Queensland banana growers are optimistic a soil fungus that devastated the Northern Territory's industry won't do the same over the border, a mayor says. Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed the disease detected at a far north Queensland property recently is Panama Tropical Race 4, the same strain that wiped out the Northern Territory banana industry in the 1990s. Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon says the news is sobering but expected, and farmers are ramping up measures to stop the spread of the disease. There is a lot to lose if the Queensland banana industry, worth $570 million, succumbs to the soil fungus.

  • North Queensland banana farm razed again AAP - Fri, Mar 20, 2015 4:05 PM NZDT

    A successful north Queensland indigenous employment project has again been hit hard after Cyclone Nathan razed half the trees on a banana farm. The plantation at Hope Vale was started three years ago as a joint council and government scheme to create jobs for some of the 1500 people who live in the community. About 50 per cent of the crop was razed by Cyclone Nathan's destructive winds on Friday morning - almost a year after all of the trees were toppled during Cyclone Ita last April.

  • Strong US dollar trouble, but no disaster AAP - Fri, Mar 20, 2015 10:06 AM NZDT

    US exporters and multinational companies are beginning to feel the pain from a US dollar that has hit its highest level in 12 years. From farm exporters to the chemicals industry, the moaning is growing more audible about losing competitiveness to competitors in Europe, Brazil and elsewhere. In the past year, the dollar has soared 32 per cent against the euro, 39 per cent against Brazil's real, 18 per cent on the yen, 16 per cent on the Canadian dollar, and 13 per cent against the pound. It gives, for instance, farmers in Brazil and Canada big advantages.