Rural News

  • Greens strike deal to pass backpacker tax AAP - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 11:08 PM NZDT
    Greens strike deal to pass backpacker tax

    Farmers are breathing a sigh of relief after an eleventh-hour deal between the government and the Greens secured a 15 per cent tax rate for backpackers, ending an 18-month long saga of uncertainty. The last-minute deal brokered on the year's final parliamentary sitting day will allow backpackers to keep 65 per cent of their superannuation at a cost of $55 million and includes a $100 million boost to Landcare projects. It will raise the same amount of revenue as a 13 per cent tax rate.

  • Farmers urge deal on backpacker tax AAP - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 8:51 PM NZDT
    Farmers urge deal on backpacker tax

    National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson says her members still support a backpacker tax within a range of 15 to 19 per cent, but will back whatever rate the parliament settles on. The government ...

  • Smarter farming could cut hunger in Africa AAP - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 4:01 PM NZDT

    Southern African farmers facing hunger as a result of worsening drought know a lot about climate change, but lack the resources to put solutions that work into place, agriculture and development researchers say. In many cases, farmers are simply not aware of potential solutions, said Oluyede Ajayi, a senior program coordinator with the centre, speaking on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Johannesburg on scaling up climate-smart agricultural solutions. Such shortcomings are one reason an ongoing drought in southern Africa has left 23 million people dependent on food aid, with another 13 million in need of help, according to the Southern African Development Community, which launched a $US2.8 billion emergency appeal in July.

  • Elderly white farmers want recompense AAP - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 3:01 PM NZDT

    Brian van Buuren, a white former farmer in Burma Valley, eastern Zimbabwe, couldn't hide his anger as he recalled how he lost almost everything during the country's controversial land reforms. After investing most of his money in his tobacco farm, van Buuren was left almost destitute when his land was seized by the government in 2010. "I lost virtually everything," van Buuren, 80, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

  • Crickets, birds, app guide African farmers AAP - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 2:01 PM NZDT

    It was in Mbeere, in rural Kenya, where Muthoni Masinde began to pick up on nature's way of signposting shifting weather patterns, as she helped her mother farm their land. Studies in computer science soon took Masinde away from rural life, but she never forgot the value farmers placed on observing the environment and its rhythms to grow their crops. Using her expertise in computer science, Masinde has now developed a tool to make predicting drought easier for Africa's small-scale farmers by combining traditional know-how with scientific weather data.

  • Indian farmers hit by "black money" move AAP - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 1:01 PM NZDT

    For Indian farmer Buddha Singh, who works a small plot of land in the village of Bajna south of New Delhi, the government's decision to abolish 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes to crush the shadow economy could hardly have come at a worse time. India's 263 million farmers mostly live in the cash economy, exposing them to the full impact of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shock announcement that larger denomination bank notes would immediately cease to be legal tender.

  • Will Trump stifle environmental investing? AAP - Wed, Nov 30, 2016 4:01 PM NZDT

    Donald Trump's move into the White House could drive even more dollars into the already hot field of sustainable investing. Trump has called climate change a hoax, said he'd like to pull out of the Paris Agreement on global warming and suggested rolling back the carbon-cutting Clean Power Plan. Regardless of what was said on the campaign trail, a growing number of investors do care about the environment, says Lisa Woll, chief executive of US SIF, a trade group whose membership includes mutual-fund companies, pension funds and others interested in sustainable investing.

  • Canada PM approves two pipeline projects AAP - Wed, Nov 30, 2016 3:23 PM NZDT
    Canada PM approves two pipeline projects

    Canada has approved two major oil pipeline projects despite the objections of environmental campaigners and indigenous leaders, local media reports say. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday told reporters the $US5 billion ($A6.7 billion) proposal by Kinder Morgan to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline to the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, British Columbia, would create 15,000 jobs. "It meets the strictest of environmental standards and fits with our national climate plan," Trudeau said.

  • India to take cold comfort from strong GDP AAP - Wed, Nov 30, 2016 1:38 PM NZDT

    India can ill-afford to take much pride in having the world's fastest growing large economy when it releases September quarter data on Wednesday, with businesses, farmers and families all suffering after the government's sudden demonetization drive. Having taken credit for putting life back in a moribund economy when he took power two-and-a-half years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's crackdown on tax dodgers and counterfeiters by removing 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee banknotes from circulation has taken the economy down a very bumpy road. "The move will weigh on GDP growth for a few quarters, dampening government revenues," warned credit ratings firm Moody's Investors Service.

  • Sugar mill blaze leaves GC growers reeling AAP - Tue, Nov 29, 2016 5:38 PM NZDT

    A fire at the Gold Coast's only sugar mill could be the death knell for the region's sugarcane industry. The Rocky Point Sugar Mill in Woongoolba, on the northern end of the Gold Coast, will not operate throughout this summer's crushing season after the fire at the factory in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Rocky Point District Cane Growers Organisation chairman Richard Skopp says while no one is giving up, the mill fire is the last thing farmers in the region need.

  • Shell expects no climate accord hit AAP - Tue, Nov 29, 2016 3:01 PM NZDT

    Royal Dutch Shell expects to pump out all the fossil fuel reserves listed on its balance sheet, its chief executive says, dismissing concerns that production limits in the wake of the Paris climate accord could hit the energy giant's valuation. In an interview with Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, Ben van Beurden says the issue of "stranded" reserves - deposits in the ground that cannot be used because of carbon emissions limitations - would have no impact on balance sheets. The Paris Climate Agreement, which came into force in November, commits almost 200 countries, including China, the United States and the European Union, to limiting temperature increases to 2C and weaning the world economy off fossil fuels.

  • Solve the global crisis for $US5m prize AAP - Tue, Nov 29, 2016 2:01 PM NZDT

    As the world grapples with potentially catastrophic global problems, including climate change, it needs to find solutions by overcoming short-term thinking, risk analysts say. "We're trying to solve today's problems with yesterday's tools," said the 89-year-old, who launched the Global Challenges Foundation in 2012. "The public and even the private sector are underestimating the risks because we are too short-sighted in our decision-making," said Mats Andersson, a former CEO of Sweden's largest pension fund and now head of Szombatfalvy's foundation.

  • Qld farmers hopeful on backpacker tax AAP - Tue, Nov 29, 2016 12:26 PM NZDT

    Pinata Farms managing director Gavin Scurr said the industry wants the proposed 15 per cent tax rate to pass parliament in the coming days. "It's just dragged out for far too long, so we're (Queensland fruit farmers) really hopeful that the 15 per cent proposal gets through," he told AAP on Tuesday. Mr Scurr said the uncertainty surrounding the establishment of the tax had been a huge concern for farmers across Queensland.

  • Qld farmers hopeful over backpacker tax AAP - Tue, Nov 29, 2016 12:13 PM NZDT

    Queensland fruit farmers are hopeful the political stalemate over the backpacker tax is about to end. Pinata Farms managing director Gavin Scurr said the industry was hopeful the proposed 15 per cent tax ...

  • Farmers demand action on climate change AAP - Tue, Nov 29, 2016 10:13 AM NZDT

    Farmers are demanding their political and industry representatives do more to tackle climate change. As they experience rapid changes on the land farmers worry there's worse to come, a national survey reveals. Eight in 10 farmers want their agricultural sector representatives to do more to advocate for stronger action, and 88 per cent want their political representatives to do more.

  • NXT wants jobless Aussies on the farm AAP - Mon, Nov 28, 2016 8:41 PM NZDT
    NXT wants jobless Aussies on the farm

    Unemployed Australians will be able to earn $5000 on top of the dole without penalty if they secure seasonal farm work under a scheme put together by the Nick Xenophon Team. The Turnbull government was able to secure the support of NXT for its controversial backpacker tax by agreeing to a $30 million trial run of the arrangement from mid-2017. "It is about widening and deepening the pool from which farmers can draw labour," NXT MP Rebekah Sharkie told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

  • Farmers feeling confident about 2017 AAP - Mon, Nov 28, 2016 1:29 PM NZDT

    Confidence among most Australian farmers remains high nearing the end of 2016, and the agricultural sector is optimistic about 2017. Agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank's latest quarterly rural confidence survey shows that farmer confidence has remained at historically high levels for the past quarter, following good seasonal conditions and solid commodity prices. "Much of the country is experiencing a good season, following the second wettest winter on record, and a wet start to spring," Rabobank national manager of Country Banking Australia,Todd Charteris said on Monday.

  • Farmers optimistic about 2017 AAP - Mon, Nov 28, 2016 12:07 PM NZDT

    Australian farmers are optimistic about 2017 as they near the end of 2016, with their confidence level at an all-time high. Agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says, in its latest quarterly rural ...

  • Greens slam Hanson over reef visit AAP - Sat, Nov 26, 2016 7:36 PM NZDT
    Greens slam Hanson over reef visit

    Pauline Hanson's bogus claim the Great Barrier Reef is healthy is placing at risk up to 70,000 jobs, which will be affected by damage cause by climate change, the Greens say. The One Nation leader has been accused of selecting a part of the reef unaffected by coral bleaching when she went snorkelling off Great Keppel Island on Friday and later had a crack at environmental groups for telling "untruths" about the reef's health. "Reef scientists are unanimous in saying the biggest threat to the reef is global warming, which caused the recent devastating coral bleaching," she said on Saturday.

  • 'Major risks' to Joyce's relocation plan AAP - Fri, Nov 25, 2016 5:57 PM NZDT

    A controversial plan to move a pesticides agency to the electorate of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce could cause the agriculture industry to lose up to $193 million a year, a damning analysis has found. An independent cost-benefit analysis of the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, which Mr Joyce has fought hard against releasing, warns there's a high chance it could take up to five years to recruit and train regulatory scientists needed to approve key agricultural chemicals. Crucially, the report says there is no material economic benefit of the agency being close to farmers and other agricultural researchers, one of the reasons behind Mr Joyce's relocation proposal.

  • Synlait Milk starts trading on ASX AAP - Fri, Nov 25, 2016 2:56 PM NZDT

    New Zealand dairy processor Synlait Milk has started trading on the Australian share market, with its shares hitting the board at $3.18. Synlait, which makes nutritional products and specialty ingredients for other companies, including infant formula for A2 Milk, is already listed on the New Zealand share market. "Being dual-listed on the NZX and ASX increases access for institutional investors in Australia and opens up the company to Australian retail investors, too," Synlait chief executive John Penno said on Friday.

  • Backpacker uncertainty hurting Qld farms AAP - Fri, Nov 25, 2016 2:03 PM NZDT

    As uncertainty over the backpacker tax continues, Queensland fruit farmers are struggling to get by with a huge drop-off in staff from years gone by. Pinata Farms, a third generation company with fruit farms throughout Australia, were once turning away backpackers every day but are now only scraping by due to a reduced mango crop. "In years gone by we'll have as many as 340 backpackers working with us around our farms and at the moment it's down to about 200," Pinata Farms managing director Gavin Scurr told AAP on Friday.

  • Uncertainty over tax hurting Qld farms AAP - Fri, Nov 25, 2016 1:12 PM NZDT

    As uncertainty over the backpacker tax continues, Queensland fruit farmers are struggling to get by with a huge drop-off in staff from years gone by. Pinata Farms, a third generation company with fruit ...

  • Disaster estimates ignore cost to poor: WB AAP - Fri, Nov 25, 2016 1:01 PM NZDT

    Natural disasters have a more devastating impact on the poor than widely thought, forcing some 26 million people into poverty each year and setting back global spending on goods and services by the equivalent of $US520 billion ($A710 billion) annually, the World Bank says. "Severe climate shocks threaten to roll back decades of progress against poverty," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim in a statement. Stephane Hallegatte, lead author of the report, said poor people tend to suffer more from disasters as they often live in places that are hit more often, and lose a bigger share of their income.

  • Post offices offer cheap remittances AAP - Wed, Nov 23, 2016 12:01 PM NZDT

    Post offices across Africa are helping poor people in rural areas access financial services and provide a cheaper way for migrants to send money home, a UN agency says. More than 15 per cent of adult Africans - nearly 100 million people - use the tens of thousands of post offices and agencies across the continent to access basic financial services, said the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Trust in post offices - and the small sums needed to open accounts - make them attractive to people such as the elderly, women and farmers who may otherwise be reluctant to visit banks, IFAD said in a recent report.

  • China's Singles Day boosts A2 Milk sales AAP - Tue, Nov 22, 2016 6:28 PM NZDT
    China's Singles Day boosts A2 Milk sales

    Good sales during China's biggest online shopping day have given The A2 Milk Company a bumper start to 2016/17. New Zealand-based A2 Milk says revenue for the four months to October is up 96 per cent on last year at $NZ155.2 million ($A148.5 million), as sales of infant formula and milk products continue to grow. A2 Milk Managing director Geoff Babidge told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Sydney on Tuesday that revenue growth over the four months reflected the major seasonal build-up for China's Singles Day.

  • Singles Day helps A2 Milk sales surge AAP - Tue, Nov 22, 2016 1:50 PM NZDT
    Singles Day helps A2 Milk sales surge

    Milk supplier The A2 Milk Company has generated a big jump in revenue for the first four months of the current 2016/17 financial year as sales of infant formula and milk products continue to grow. New Zealand-based A2 Milk told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Sydney on Tuesday that revenue for the four months to October, 2016 was up 96 per cent to $NZ155.2 million, compared to a year earlier. A2 Milk's biggest market is Australia and New Zealand but it is building markets in China, the UK and the US.

  • Int Dept shortlist vexes workers, greens AAP - Tue, Nov 22, 2016 1:37 PM NZDT

    President-elect Donald Trump's shortlist of candidates to lead the US Department of Interior has employees and environmental advocates fearful of a shift in the agency's direction, from one focused on preserving public lands to one that would open them up to more drilling and mining. The outcome will have implications for industry access to millions of hectacres of national parks, reserves and tribal territories stretching from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico and the viability of President Barack Obama's efforts to keep the US in line with international agreements to reduce the impacts of climate change. Republican Trump, a New York real estate businessman who has never previously held public office, has leaned toward right-wing loyalists for the Cabinet since winning the November 8 election.

  • A2 Milk hopes to adopt dividend policy AAP - Tue, Nov 22, 2016 1:13 PM NZDT
    A2 Milk hopes to adopt dividend policy

    Milk supplier The A2 Milk Company hopes to adopt a dividend policy after the end of the current financial year provided that the positive trends in its business continue and there is no need for substantial additional capital expenditure. A2 Milk chairman David Hearn told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Sydney on Tuesday that A2 Milk's priorities for the current year and beyond would be to consolidate the gains made in fiscal 2016.

  • Farmers warn Nationals over backpacker tax AAP - Mon, Nov 21, 2016 8:08 PM NZDT

    Farmers are warning the Nationals of a political backlash if the stalemate on the backpacker tax isn't resolved soon. With just two sitting weeks left before the long summer break, no compromise to the row over a tax rate is in sight. The government is sticking by its plan for a 19 per cent tax rate, having reduced it from the originally slated 32.5 per cent.

  • Farms need investment to hold market share AAP - Mon, Nov 21, 2016 7:16 PM NZDT

    Australian agriculture needs a lot more money if it is going to make the most of strong overseas demand for Australian produce, a new research paper warns. The ANZ Bank report, Australian Agriculture: Funding Our Future, says the nation's agriculture sector needs $109 billion in capital - a 21 per cent increase on top of current levels - for on-farm and supply chain improvements just for the industry to maintain its current share of global exports by 2025. The ANZ report says Australian agriculture will need extra capital to meet that increased demand.

  • End backpacker tax uncertainty: farmers AAP - Mon, Nov 21, 2016 10:53 AM NZDT

    Farmers will tell federal MPs that even if parliament reaches an outcome on the backpacker tax the damage has already been done. With just two sitting weeks left before the long summer break no compromise to the row over a tax rate is in sight. A delegation of eight growers is in Canberra on Monday to urge parliamentarians to end the stalemate over government legislation up for debate in the Senate on Wednesday.

  • Water fight could drench backpacker bill AAP - Sat, Nov 19, 2016 1:58 AM NZDT
    Water fight could drench backpacker bill

    A stoush over water reform could sink the government's hopes of getting its backpacker tax through parliament. Malcolm Turnbull is hoping to get the modified version of the tax through parliament, having agreed to cut the rate from 32.5 per cent to 19 per cent. Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, who met with state water ministers in Adelaide on Friday, said it was clear the promised 450 gigalitres in extra environmental flows could not be provided under the legislation which required there be no detrimental social or economic impacts.

  • Falling prices, loan binge haunt farmers AAP - Fri, Nov 18, 2016 1:01 PM NZDT

    A third-generation farmer, Matt Gibson eyed a big expansion of his family's business in late 2011, as grain prices soared in a searing Midwestern drought. By August of 2012, days before corn prices peaked, the Gibson family had borrowed nearly $US18 million ($A24 million) in a series of loans from Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank. The Gibsons took on more debt after the drought broke the following spring, sending grain prices tumbling.

  • Fonterra raises farm gate milk price AAP - Fri, Nov 18, 2016 10:17 AM NZDT

    Dairy giant Fonterra has increased its forecast farm gate milk price by NZ75 cents to $NZ6.00 per kilogram of milk solids for 2016/17. Chairman John Wilson said the increase follows improvements in pricing ...