Rural News

  • Kidman decision confused, irregular: Labor AAP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 5:24 PM NZST

    A furore has erupted over the decision to knock back a bid by a foreign-led consortium for Australia's largest single landholding, with Labor and a farmers body warning it risks future foreign investment. Treasurer Scott Morrison halted the sale of S Kidman and Co properties, which cover about 1 per cent of Australia's land mass, to a consortium of Chinese and Australian companies on Friday. Labor has slammed the treasurer's handling of the decision, calling it highly irregular and saying it creates uncertainty and confusion among foreign investors.

  • Australia still open for business: Joyce AAP - Sat, Apr 30, 2016 10:59 AM NZST

    The decision to block the sale of one of Australia's largest farms to a foreign consortium doesn't mean Australia is closed for business, the deputy prime minister has argued. Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce defended the decision in response to warnings from the National Farmers Federation and Labor that it may send a signal that Australia is no longer open to foreign investment, especially from Chinese investors.

  • MG 'comfortable' despite legal threat AAP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 8:49 PM NZST
    MG 'comfortable' despite legal threat

    Murray Goulburn is comfortable with its actions despite the prospect of a possible shareholder class action over a big profit downgrade by Australia's biggest dairy producer. Law firm Slater and Gordon says it and litigation funder IMF Bentham are weighing legal action after Murray Goulburn this week downgraded its full-year profit guidance for the current financial year to between $39 million and $42 million. Slater and Gordon and IMF are investigating whether Murray Goulburn misled investors but Murray Goulburn says it has met its obligations.

  • Potential Murray Goulburn class action AAP - Fri, Apr 29, 2016 2:20 PM NZST

    Listed law firm Slater and Gordon is considering a potential investor class action against Australia's biggest dairy producer, Murray Goulburn. The move by Slater and Gordon and litigation funder IMF Bentham follows Murray Goulburn's profit downgrade on April 27, which resulted in units in its listed entity, MG Unit Trust, plunging more than 40 per cent. On April 27, Murray Goulburn also announced that managing director Gary Helou and chief financial officer Brad Hingle would be stepping down from their positions.

  • Kiwi jumps against greenback on OCR news AAP - Thu, Apr 28, 2016 7:55 PM NZST
    Kiwi jumps against greenback on OCR news

    The New Zealand dollar jumped 1.3 per cent against the greenback after the Reserve Bank kept interest rates unchanged and repeated that easing may be required to get inflation back to its target while also noting a pick-up in house price inflation. Thursday's statement keeps alive the prospect that governor Graeme Wheeler will cut the official cash rate a quarter point to 2 per cent at the June 10 monetary policy statement, although his language was no more emphatic about easing than in March, when he surprised the market with a quarter-point cut. Gibbs said he didn't agree a further rate cut is required, given there has been an improvement in the global situation since the March policy statement, dairy product prices have improved and both economic growth and inflation have picked up.

  • Painful adjustments at Murray Goulburn AAP - Wed, Apr 27, 2016 8:07 PM NZST
    Painful adjustments at Murray Goulburn

    High-profile managing director Gary Helou has exited Australia's biggest dairy producer, Murray Goulburn, and farmers face a painful year after severe downgrades to the co-operative's profit forecasts and milk prices. Murray Goulburn emerged from a trading halt on Wednesday to cut its full-year profit guidance to between $39 million and $42 million - well below its February forecast of $63 million and less than half its May, 2015 prospectus forecast of $89 million. The drastic changes follow Murray Goulburn's board forensically examining the financial performance after trading results fell short of forecasts.

  • MG cuts profit forecast, milk price AAP - Wed, Apr 27, 2016 2:41 PM NZST
    MG cuts profit forecast, milk price

    Australia's biggest dairy producer, Murray Goulburn, has slashed its profit forecast and cut payments to farmers in a painful adjustment that has also claimed managing director Gary Helou. Units in the dairy co-operative's listed entity, MG Unit Trust, have plunged more than a third in value on the Australian share market following the Wednesday morning announcements. Murray Goulburn has blamed the stronger Australian dollar and poor sales of adult milk powder in China for its woes.

  • Murray Goulburn unit price plunges AAP - Wed, Apr 27, 2016 12:38 PM NZST
    Murray Goulburn unit price plunges

    Units in dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn's listed investment vehicle have plunged in early trading after Australia's biggest dairy producer slashed its profit forecast and reduced payments to farmers. Murray Goulburn also announced that managing director Gary Helou had been replaced in the wake of the disappointing trading update. Units in MG Unit Trust were 76 cents, or 35.51 per cent, lower at $1.38 at 1014 AEST.

  • MG's Helou to step down after downgrade AAP - Wed, Apr 27, 2016 12:22 PM NZST
    MG's Helou to step down after downgrade

    Murray Goulburn managing director Gary Helou is stepping down after the dairy co-operative missed profit forecasts and said it will borrow as much as $165 million to maintain milk prices paid to suppliers. Murray Goulburn also revised down its full-year guidance to $39 million-$42 million, compared to $63 million it set out in its prospectus.

  • Murray Goulburn in trading halt AAP - Fri, Apr 22, 2016 1:41 PM NZST
    Murray Goulburn in trading halt

    Australia's biggest dairy producer, Murray Goulburn, has sought a trading halt for its unit trust as it considers the impact of changed market conditions on its full-year outlook. The trading halt may be in place until April 27. Murray Goulburn warned in February that global dairy commodity prices had continued to decline in the wake of a drop in Chinese imports of dairy ingredients, the Russian embargo on dairy imports and increased milk supply from Europe.

  • Soaring maize prices adds pressure for ANC AAP - Fri, Apr 22, 2016 1:02 PM NZST

    Drought has pushed up the cost of white maize and other food staples of poor South Africans, and faster price rises will squeeze budgets further, potentially hurting the ruling African National Congress (ANC) before local elections in August. When combined with a weak rand currency that makes imported goods more expensive has meant maize products, bread, lamb, beef have all got more expensive. Of particular concern is the rising price of white maize that poor and lower-income households use to make the calorie-rich porridge known as "pap" and of sunflower oil that they use for cooking.

  • Qld MP apologises for leaking report AAP - Wed, Apr 20, 2016 7:20 PM NZST

    A Queensland MP has apologised for leaking a secret document about proposed new environmental laws to the state's mining lobby. Burnett MP Stephen Bennett, a member of parliament's agriculture and environment committee, says he was only told on Wednesday about his "supposed breaches" of parliament's rules. Committee chairman Glenn Butcher said the breach involved giving a draft report "or sections of it" about the government's proposed chain of responsibility laws to the Queensland Resources Council.

  • Qld MP in strife over draft report leak AAP - Wed, Apr 20, 2016 5:08 PM NZST

    A Queensland LNP MP has been referred to parliament's ethics committee for leaking information about new environmental laws to the state's mining lobby. Agriculture and Environment Committee chair Glenn ...

  • Craft beer boom faces hops shortage AAP - Wed, Apr 20, 2016 4:01 PM NZST

    Fans of craft beer could soon be paying more at the bar as small, independent brewers face a potentially serious shortage of a vital ingredient: hops. Last summer's hot and dry weather blighted the European hop harvest and strong demand for increasingly popular craft beers, which use a lot of hops, is putting small brewers' profit margins under pressure and forcing them to raise their prices. On his farm in Kent, not far from London, Tony Redsell has been growing hops since 1948.

  • Indian farmers have a beef with govt AAP - Wed, Apr 20, 2016 2:01 PM NZST

    A ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in India's richest state is threatening to push millions of farmers into penury, deepening distress in the countryside and fanning resentment against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party. Slaughter of cows, considered sacred in Hinduism, has historically been banned in most states but was rarely enforced in India, the world's largest exporter of beef. The stricter rules come as Modi and the nationalist BJP lay greater stress on India's Hindu faith, to which the majority of the population belongs.

  • NT warned about fracking risks AAP - Tue, Apr 19, 2016 3:23 PM NZST

    Territorians are facing the fight of their lives against contamination caused by fracking, says a Queensland woman whose father took his own life after a decade-long battle to keep his farm from mining companies. George Bender died last October after what his daughter Helen characterised as "10 years of harassment, intimidation, bullying and threats of court by numerous companies" culminating in Origin Energy's attempt to force him to sell his property. Fracking is shaping up to be a major election issue before the NT heads to the polls in August, with the Country Liberal government insisting the practice can be done safely, while Labor vows to institute a moratorium if elected.

  • Monsoon rains seen above average in 2016 AAP - Mon, Apr 18, 2016 1:01 PM NZST

    India's crucial monsoon rains are expected to be above average in 2016, the weather office says, easing fears over farm and economic growth after two straight droughts hit rural incomes and agricultural output. Rains in 2016 would be 106 per cent of the long-term average, Laxman Singh Rathore, chief of the India Meteorological Department, said. Rathore said the monsoon rains could be above average as El Nino - a warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean that can lead to dry spells in South Asia - is fading and giving way to La Nina in which the same waters cool.

  • Aussie UHT milk on China's positive list AAP - Mon, Apr 18, 2016 12:56 PM NZST

    Australian UHT milk producers are relieved their product will not be affected by China's cross-border e-commerce tax changes. Freedom Foods and Murray Goulburn have both released statements saying their UHT milk were on China's "positive list", which lists products that can be sold online in China's free-trade zones. Under changes made to China's e-commerce tax laws on April 8, retail goods bought online from overseas will no longer be treated as personal postal goods but as imported goods, which are subject to tariffs, import VAT and consumption tax.

  • Brazil political crisis hits grains trade AAP - Thu, Apr 14, 2016 3:53 PM NZST

    Brazil's forward sales of commodities such as grains and sugar have nearly ground to a halt as producers, trading companies and consultants assess the impact of the possible impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. After a year-long boom in sugar and corn exports, commodity merchants and farmers are bracing for continued strengthening of the real if Rousseff is ousted, reducing the price advantage of Brazilian commodities and possibly curbing foreign sales. "Sellers and buyers are basically just waiting to see what is going to happen," said Fabio Meneghin, senior analyst at Agroconsult, a leading Brazilian consultancy.

  • China focused consumer stocks recover AAP - Wed, Apr 13, 2016 7:22 PM NZST

    Shares in Some food, dairy and vitamin producers that sell into China have partly recovered after being hit by changes to China's tax policy on cross-border e-commerce retail sales. Investors may have over-reacted when selling off China focused consumer stocks, including vitamins supplier Blackmores and children's food and formula supplier Bellamy's Australia, HC Securities chief executive and client advisor Mark Lennox said. Under changes made to China's e-commerce tax laws on April 8, retail goods bought online from overseas will no longer be treated as personal postal goods but as imported goods, which are subject to tariffs, import VAT and consumption tax.

  • Some China-focused consumer stocks recover AAP - Wed, Apr 13, 2016 1:14 PM NZST

    Some food, dairy and vitamin stocks that sell into China have partly recovered after falling sharply on Tuesday following changes to China's tax policy on cross-border e-commerce retail sales. By 1053 ...

  • Food, dairy stocks fall on China tax fears AAP - Tue, Apr 12, 2016 8:22 PM NZST

    Shares in companies selling vitamins, long-life milk and infant formula to China have fallen sharply in the wake of China's changed tax policy on cross-border e-commerce retail sales. Under changes made to China's e-commerce tax laws on April 8, retail goods bought online will no longer be treated as personal postal goods but as imported goods, which are subject to tariffs, import VAT and consumption tax. The tax policy aims to create a level playing field for e-commerce platforms and traditional retailers and importers.

  • Food stocks fall on China tax fears AAP - Tue, Apr 12, 2016 2:45 PM NZST

    Some of the Australian companies impacted by China's changed tax policy on cross-border e-commerce retail sales say they don't expect a significant hit to their business. Shares in Australian companies that export consumer products into China - like vitamins, long-life milk and infant formula - fell sharply in early trading on the Australian share market on Tuesday, following the April 8 change in China's e-commerce tax laws. At 12016 AEST, vitamins supplier Blackmores was down around five per cent, milk supplier Murray Goulburn's unit trust had fallen about six per cent, children's food and formula supplier Bellamy's had dropped around seven per cent, dairy producer Bega Cheese was off around three per cent, and Freedom Foods was around three per cent lower.

  • Gas industry must show benefits: Barnett AAP - Tue, Apr 12, 2016 2:07 PM NZST

    It is no longer enough for large oil and gas companies to say that they are good for the economy - they must show direct benefits to the people they affect, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says. Mr Barnett told an industry conference that poor treatment of people on Australia's east coast, particularly farmers, by companies and governments was a key reason in the case for NSW and Victoria banning coal seam gas exploration.

  • Renewed interest in US offshore wind AAP - Mon, Apr 11, 2016 2:01 PM NZST

    The offshore wind industry has high hopes for establishing a permanent beachhead in the US after years of disappointment. Business leaders and politicians who recently gathered for an industry conference in Boston said wealthy investment firms and seasoned European offshore wind companies were increasingly committing to projects along the US East Coast. "There's a palpable sense that it's finally happening," said Bryan Martin, a managing director at D.E. Shaw & Co, a New York hedge fund that's the principal backer of Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island-based company looking to launch the country's first offshore wind farm off Block Island's shores by the end of 2016.

  • World Bank ramps up help for poor AAP - Sat, Apr 9, 2016 1:21 AM NZST
    World Bank ramps up help for poor

    The World Bank Group plans to invest more of its funds to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, in an effort to stop extreme weather and rising seas from making poverty worse. In a climate change action plan released late on Thursday, the bank said it would bring early warning systems to an extra 100 million people in 15 developing countries, and social safety nets to protect an additional 50 million people by 2020. The bank will also develop plans for adjusting agriculture to climate shifts in at least 40 countries through measures like hardier seeds, farming methods that capture carbon, and energy-efficient irrigation systems.

  • Strong debut for China Dairy AAP - Fri, Apr 8, 2016 6:56 PM NZST

    Shares in China Dairy Corporation lifted 25 per cent in a strong debut on the Australian share market. China Dairy shares closed five cents, or 25 per cent, above their 20c issue price on Friday, with the stock ranging as high as 27 cents during the day as about 1.5 million shares were traded. China Dairy wants to expand its milk supply operations into Australia to meet the insatiable demand for fresh milk, particularly for infants, in its homeland.

  • US aims to toughen rules on organic eggs AAP - Fri, Apr 8, 2016 12:27 PM NZST
    US aims to toughen rules on organic eggs

    The US government is set to shake up the $500 million organic egg industry with rules that for the first time will mandate specific space requirements for hens and spell out what it means for them to have access to the outdoors. Proposed requirements from the US Department of Agriculture aim to increase confidence among consumers about what it means when food products carry an organic label. Divergent farming practices in the US within the fast-growing organic sector have caused confusion among shoppers and given an economic advantage to egg producers who do not provide as much space for their poultry, according to the USDA.

  • Dairy prices to remain weak in 2016 AAP - Thu, Apr 7, 2016 2:28 PM NZST

    Australian dairy farmers have been shielded from the worst of a global dairy market slump but should have cautious expectations for milk prices in 2016/17, a new report says. Food and agribusiness banker Rabobank says global dairy prices are likely to remain under intense pressure throughout 2016 but may lift heading into 2017. Rabobank senior analyst Michael Harvey says farmgate prices in Australia have largely been shielded from the severe global dairy market downturn.

  • 200 Thai fish farms close over drought AAP - Tue, Apr 5, 2016 8:32 PM NZST
    200 Thai fish farms close over drought

    A record drought has forced the closure of almost 200 fish farms in central Thailand, local media report. The closures come as the worst drought in over 20 years decreased water levels and increased salinity in rivers throughout the country, according to MThai news website. Withaya Preechaphan, a local fish farmer in Chainat province, told MThai that the drought had caused his fish to die out and made his business unsustainable.

  • Mafia harvests big gains from agriculture AAP - Mon, Apr 4, 2016 2:01 PM NZST

    Italy's mafia has infiltrated huge swathes of the country's agriculture and food business, earning more than 16 billion euros ($A23.77 billion) in 2015 from the industry, according to a recent study. The report by Italy's agricultural association, Coldiretti, the Eurispes think-tank and Agro-Food Criminal Observatory said organised criminals were taking advantage of the prolonged economic downturn to seize control of farmland and firms. "They are creating a crisis for the image of Italian food in the world, they are putting the health of consumers at risk and putting our environment at risk," said the head of Coldiretti, Roberto Moncalvo.

  • Aust bonds higher, but tipped to fall AAP - Mon, Apr 4, 2016 11:04 AM NZST

    Australian bonds are marginally higher, despite US yields widening. ANZ economists said US treasuries fell over the weekend and into Monday (AEST), after non-farm payrolls data released on Friday night ...

  • WA behind on live animal transport laws AAP - Sat, Apr 2, 2016 1:14 AM NZDT

    Western Australia is the only state or territory in the nation that has not signed up to laws regulating how animals are treated when transported on land, the RSPCA says. With WA playing a key role in the nation's livestock trade, Premier Colin Barnett this week named agriculture as an industry that must grow for the state, with the mining boom now over. "The government is out of step with public opinion on animal welfare," Ms Bradshaw told AAP.

  • WA behind on live export transport laws AAP - Fri, Apr 1, 2016 9:19 PM NZDT

    Western Australia is the only state or territory in the nation that has not signed up to laws regulating how animals are treated when being transported for export, the RSPCA says. Every other state has been signed up to the national standards for more than three years, WA president Lynne Bradshaw says. WA plays a key role in the nation's live export trade and Premier Colin Barnett this week named agriculture as an industry that must grow for the state, with the mining boom now over, while naming Dean Nalder would take over the portfolio.

  • Origin inks NSW solar deal AAP - Thu, Mar 31, 2016 6:22 PM NZDT
    Origin inks NSW solar deal

    Origin Energy shares have lifted after the company signed its first solar farm deal and reaffirmed cost cutting targets. The troubled energy producer inked a 15 year contract with the new Moree Solar Farm in northern NSW, which will generate enough power to supply 24,000 households. Origin will buy 100 per cent of the output from the farm, which has recently been commissioned by the local unit of Spain's Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and is expected to produce 145 GWh of energy a year.