Rural News

  • Aust won't sign fossil fuel agreement AAP - 10 hours ago

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull won't sign an international agreement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies amid concerns it could jeopardise Australia's diesel fuel rebates. Mr Turnbull has opted out of signing the key fossil fuel subsidy reform communique at major United Nations climate talks in Paris, a government spokeswoman confirmed. The call to phase out the subsidies is being labelled the "missing piece of the climate change puzzle" and is led by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

  • New agreement for NT farmers and miners AAP - 14 hours ago

    Northern Territory cattle farmers have welcomed a new process for land use agreements with oil and gas companies. The new system announced by the NT government on Monday means landowners and explorers will have to come to an agreement before exploration begins. "For the first time we get to sit down at the table with the people who want to do the exploring and make a plan for how we're both being able to do it so it's not upsetting our land, it's not upsetting our business, home, family life, animals ... (and) not hurting pastures and water supplies," said Tom Stockwell, president of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association.

  • Gates, others push for cleaner energy R&D AAP - 20 hours ago

    Bill Gates and some of the world's other richest entrepreneurs will join with governments from both rich and emerging countries on Monday to kick off the Paris climate talks by pledging billions of dollars of investment in clean energy technologies. The United States, France, India and 17 other countries will announce they will double the $US10 billion ($A13.90 billion) they collectively spend on clean energy research and development in the next five years, shining a spotlight on role of technology in any climate agreement reached in Paris. US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the Mission Innovation initiative on the first day of the UN climate summit in Paris.

  • Bellamy's boosts production with Fonterra AAP - 22 hours ago

    Infant formula maker Bellamy's has signed a deal with New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra to produce a range of new baby nutritional powders. Fonterra's Australian infant formula factory at Darnum, in southeast Victoria, will make the powders for Bellamy's over five years from mid-2016. "We have been working throughout this year to seamlessly add capacity so that we can meet the growing demand for our certified organic formulas from Australian parents and our export markets," Bellamy's chief executive Laura McBain said in a statement on Monday.

  • Turnbull urges strong CHOGM climate action AAP - Sat, Nov 28, 2015 1:26 PM NZDT
    Turnbull urges strong CHOGM climate action

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has encouraged other Commonwealth leaders to send a powerful signal to other nations that strong climate change action is needed. Mr Turnbull on Friday was at a special climate change session at the Commonwealth leaders' summit in Malta, also attended by special guests French President Francois Holland and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. "Ahead of COP21 it is a powerful signal to other countries of the world to show a similar level of ambition and commitment to working together for a strong result in Paris," he said.

  • Plan to help Africa weather climate change AAP - Thu, Nov 26, 2015 1:01 PM NZDT

    The World Bank aims to drive more funding into efforts to help African countries withstand climate change impacts and boost their clean energy production through a $US16 billion ($A22.08 billion) plan. The Africa Climate Business Plan lays out investments to make the continent's people, land, water and cities more resilient to droughts, floods, storms and rising seas, increase access to green energy, and strengthen early warning systems. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said sub-Saharan Africa is "highly vulnerable to climate shocks", which could have deep effects on everything from child stunting to malaria and food price increases.

  • Two in five worried about China investment AAP - Tue, Nov 24, 2015 3:44 PM NZDT

    More than 40 per cent of Australians are concerned about Chinese foreign investment Down Under, a survey has found. The Daymark Community Monitor, which records community perceptions of overseas investment from China, found Australians were mainly concerned about Chinese buying up local agriculture and commercial real estate. Nearly half of the 1,504 people surveyed also believed that investment from Australia's biggest trading partner had accelerated in recent years, while only four per cent thought the same of United States and UK investment.

  • Alberta to introduce carbon tax AAP - Tue, Nov 24, 2015 3:02 PM NZDT

    The Canadian province of Alberta, home to the country's controversial oil sands, says it will implement an economy-wide tax on carbon emissions in 2017, addressing long-standing criticism it is not doing enough to combat climate change. The provincial government estimates the plan, including a pledge to phase out pollution from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 and a limit on emissions from the province's oil sands industry, will generate $Can3 billion ($A3.11 billion) in annual revenue. Backed by prominent representatives from industry and the environmental movement, Premier Rachel Notley says the province is trying to do the right thing for the future.

  • FIRB to look into Tassie dairy farm sale AAP - Fri, Nov 20, 2015 6:48 PM NZDT

    The Foreign Investment Review Board will look into the proposed sale of one of Tasmania's oldest and largest farm businesses, The Van Diemen's Land Company. The identity of the buyer has not been revealed and is subject to a confidentiality clause, VDL boss David Beca said when announcing that a successful tender had been selected. The dairy operations of VDL, which dates back to 1825, include the milking of 17,890 cows over 7062 hectares in northwest Tasmania.

  • Banks care about farmers: Qld treasurer AAP - Wed, Nov 18, 2015 4:22 PM NZDT

    Queensland's treasurer insists lenders are genuinely trying to help the state's struggling farmers, who have been crippled by debt brought on by drought. Curtis Pitt met with major private and public lenders on Wednesday at a roundtable event to discuss ways to improve the state's rural debt problem. "The evidence that I heard today from today is, of course they have a profit motive ... they're commercial lenders," Mr Pitt said.

  • Company fined over fatal coconut drink AAP - Wed, Nov 18, 2015 1:41 PM NZDT

    A Sydney food importing company that didn't declare the presence of dairy in a coconut drink, causing the death of a Melbourne boy, has been fined almost $20,000. Narkena Pty Ltd had pleaded guilty to three offences and was fined $6000 for each at the Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday, almost two years after the December 2013 death of a 10-year-old boy. "People rely on food being properly labelled," Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson said while handing down the sentence.

  • Rains cut South Australian grain crop AAP - Tue, Nov 17, 2015 7:11 PM NZDT

    Spring rains have cut South Australia's grain crop this year with the harvest expected to peak at 7.1 million tonnes. That's 490,000 tonnes below earlier estimates and Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell ...

  • a2 Milk formula sales grow 'exponentially' AAP - Tue, Nov 17, 2015 6:56 PM NZDT

    China's insatiable thirst for infant formula has quadrupled sales for Australasian dairy company a2 Milk. China's voracious demand has prompted a2 to nearly double its full year underlying earnings guidance. Infant formula revenue for the four months to October 31 quadrupled on the same period last year to $NZ38 million ($A34.78 million), almost as much as for the whole of the last financial year.

  • Ruralco's live export business grows AAP - Tue, Nov 17, 2015 1:33 PM NZDT

    Agribusiness Ruralco Holdings' live export operations continue to grow as it ships more cattle to Vietnam. Ruralco says that in fiscal 2015 it shipped more than 132,000 head of cattle and sheep to all destinations despite challenging international market conditions in the first half of the year. "Our live export business continues to increase capacity with growth in exports to Vietnam mitigating the impact of the reduced Indonesian permit allocations for feeder cattle and the collapse in the export dairy market earlier in the year," Ruralco's newly appointed chief executive, Travis Dillon, said on Tuesday.

  • Formula demand sends a2 sales soaring AAP - Tue, Nov 17, 2015 1:01 PM NZDT

    Huge demand for infant formula in China is helping sales surge for Australasian dairy company a2 Milk. Chief executive Geoffrey Babidge says sales growth for a2 Platinum infant formula is exceeding expectations, with revenues quadrupling to $38 million in the four months to the end of October.

  • Fonterra raises annual earnings forecast AAP - Mon, Nov 16, 2015 1:12 PM NZDT
    Fonterra raises annual earnings forecast

    Fonterra has raised its annual earnings forecast as it cuts costs and boosts margins even as milk volumes decline. The Auckland-based co-operative raised its forecast earnings per share range for the current financial year to NZ45-55 cents, from a previous forecast of NZ40-50 cents, it said in a statement. It expects an annual dividend of NZ35-40 cents per share, which would equate to a total forecast cash payout of $NZ4.95-$5/kgMS, it said.

  • The container village housing migrants AAP - Fri, Nov 13, 2015 4:01 PM NZDT

    Standing amid piles of bags and boxes as she prepares to move into her container, 28-year old Cambodian national Duan is upbeat, despite having momentarily mislaid her television. Duan is one of an estimated four million foreign migrant workers who have flocked to Thailand in search of higher wages, often in the kind of low-paid, physically demanding and sometimes dangerous industries that comparatively wealthy Thais now have little appetite for. The vast majority of these workers, many of whom are undocumented, hail from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, and work inside the construction, agriculture, fishing and manufacturing industries.

  • G20 must switch subsidies to renewables AAP - Fri, Nov 13, 2015 12:01 PM NZDT

    G20 members are spending $US452 billion ($A640.50 billion) a year subsidising fossil fuel production - nearly four times global spending on renewable energy subsidies - despite pledging to phase out fossil fuel support to tackle climate change. Global subsidies for renewable energy production amount to just $US121 billion a year, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a UK-based think-tank, and research group Oil Change International said in their report. The much greater support given to fossil fuels than to clean energy technologies by the G20, the world's biggest economies, makes it harder to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change, said the report issued before the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, that runs November 15-16.

  • Incitec banks on weaker Australian dollar AAP - Tue, Nov 10, 2015 6:42 PM NZDT

    Explosives and fertiliser maker Incitec Pivot is looking forward to a weak Australian dollar to help it overcome challenging conditions ahead. Managing director James Fazzino said he expects challenging market conditions for resources and agricultural industries to persist but added that the company and its customers would benefit from a weaker local currency. "While soft commodity prices have fallen a little, the great news for Australian farmers is the dollar's dropped," Mr Fazzino told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.

  • Qld mine mega-project back in court AAP - Mon, Nov 9, 2015 4:00 PM NZDT
    Qld mine mega-project back in court

    Indian mining giant Adani's Carmichael coalmine has again become the subject of a legal challenge as green groups continue their war against the $16.5 billion mega-project in Queensland's Galilee Basin. The Australian Conservation Foundation on Monday lodged papers in the Federal Court in Brisbane against Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt. The group argues when Mr Hunt last month reapproved the mine he did not consider the impact emissions from burning coal would have on climate pollution and Australia's international obligations to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

  • Labor seeks foreign investment rethink AAP - Fri, Nov 6, 2015 5:19 PM NZDT

    Labor says the government should rethink its lower thresholds for checks on foreign investment in agriculture and agribusiness. Parliament is considering laws forcing overseas buyers to seek Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval for agricultural land purchases of $15 million or more - down from the current $252 million threshold. The FIRB also would consider the foreign purchase of agribusinesses exceeding $55 million.

  • North is a financial safe haven: Robb AAP - Fri, Nov 6, 2015 5:17 PM NZDT

    Nervous investors are looking for financial safe havens and northern Australia is just the ticket, says federal trade minister Andrew Robb. Senior investors from 20 countries arrive in Darwin this weekend for a showcase by the Australian government of investment opportunities in resources and energy, agriculture and agribusiness, tropical and medical research, education and tourism. "There's a lot more interest in northern Australia across Asia than there is in southern Australia," Mr Robb said in Darwin.

  • Aussie Farmers Direct customers hacked AAP - Fri, Nov 6, 2015 3:50 PM NZDT

    The food delivery company was the target of an extortion attempt by international hackers, who demanded a six-figure sum of cash before posting the information of more than 5,000 customers on October 30. Aussie Farmers Direct says it has taken preventative measures and is working with its banking partners, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and IT security experts to avoid another breach.

  • US to revoke SAfrica duty-free status AAP - Fri, Nov 6, 2015 1:30 PM NZDT
    US to revoke SAfrica duty-free status

    The United States has moved to suspend trade benefits for South African farm products, escalating a drawn-out dispute over US chicken and meat exports. US President Barack Obama says he plans to revoke duty-free status for South African agricultural goods in 60 days under a program set up to help African exporters. "I am taking this step because South Africa continues to impose several longstanding barriers to US trade, including barriers affecting certain US agricultural exports," he said in a letter to Congress.

  • Italy top wine maker after big harvest AAP - Fri, Nov 6, 2015 11:01 AM NZDT

    Italy is the biggest wine producer in the world in 2015, pushing France back into second place, as good weather in most European countries lifts production - and keeps a lid on prices for consumers. The European Union's farm federation on Wednesday that quality and yields of the harvest were good, with production rising 2.7 per cent to 171.2 million hectolitres. "This year, we can easily call it a benchmark year," said Thierry Coste, the chairman of Copa-Cogeca wine division.

  • Loss for Warrnambool Cheese AAP - Thu, Nov 5, 2015 6:44 PM NZDT

    Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory has made a half-year loss of $1.15 million, hit by a decline in international commodity prices and a high raw milk cost relative to market conditions. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory, which is 88 per cent-owned by Canadian dairy giant Saputo, made a profit of $16.96 million in the prior corresponding period ending September 30. The company said the lower Australian dollar only partially offset the impact of lower commodity prices and the high cost of milk.

  • CBA to support low-carbon economy AAP - Thu, Nov 5, 2015 5:28 PM NZDT

    The Commonwealth Bank and National Australia bank have updated their environmental policies to back international efforts to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius. The revamped policies come just weeks before world leaders attend a major climate change summit hosted by the United Nations in Paris. CBA chief executive Ian Narev says the bank needs to be aware of the long-term impact of its business on the economies and communities in which it operates.

  • Foodie entrepreneurs stir innovation pot AAP - Wed, Nov 4, 2015 6:45 PM NZDT

    From farm to table, technology is changing the food industry but not fast enough. Created by industry group Food Tech Australia and sponsored by one of the country's biggest food manufacturers, Simplot, about 100 entrepreneurs will pitch and workshop ideas around food system challenges like improving agribusiness, food waste and market access. From the farm and the kitchen to restaurant tables and supermarket shelves, Food Tech Australia co-founder Liz Kaelin says the opportunities are out there for technology to have a huge impact on both producers and consumers.

  • Foodie entrepreneurs stir innnovation pot AAP - Wed, Nov 4, 2015 1:35 PM NZDT

    From farm to table, technology is changing the food industry but not fast enough. Created by industry group Food Tech Australia and sponsored by one of the country's biggest food manufacturers, Simplot, about 100 entrepreneurs will pitch and workshop ideas around food system challenges like improving agribusiness, food waste and market access. From the farm and the kitchen to restaurant tables and supermarket shelves, Food Tech Australia co-founder Liz Kaelin says the opportunities are out there for technology to have a huge impact on both producers and consumers.

  • Cabinet meets as GST debate runs rife AAP - Wed, Nov 4, 2015 1:12 PM NZDT
    Cabinet meets as GST debate runs rife

    Malcolm Turnbull faces an internal backlash over possible changes to the goods and services tax. Mr Turnbull says all options are on the table when it comes to improving the tax system, including broadening the base or increasing the rate of the GST. Assistant Minister Michael McCormack says people would be discouraged from buying fresh food if the 10 per cent tax was applied and farmers would face extra costs.

  • US youths sue over climate inaction AAP - Tue, Nov 3, 2015 12:10 PM NZDT

    The Oregon-based nonprofit Our Children's Trust has been leading efforts to file lawsuits or administrative petitions in every state and against the federal government. Some of the youth-led cases have been dismissed, while others are pending in states including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Oregon. "None of them have got to the finish line," said Michael Gerrard, a professor and director of the Sabin Centre for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

  • Farmer lawsuits against Syngenta AAP - Tue, Nov 3, 2015 12:08 PM NZDT

    About 2,000 farmers, grain handlers and corn exporters have filed lawsuits against Swiss biotechnology company Syngenta now that a federal judge has ruled their cases have merit to move forward. The lawsuits allege Syngenta's introduction of a new genetically modified corn seed in 2011 interrupted trade with China and harmed the market for US corn by depressing the commodity's price. On September 11, US District Judge John Lungstrum denied Syngenta's motion to dismiss the case rejecting the company's argument that it had no duty to protect the farmers and other agribusinesses that handle and trade corn.

  • Chinese dairy firm eyes Aust expansion AAP - Mon, Nov 2, 2015 6:34 PM NZDT

    A major Chinese dairy company hopes Australian cows can help it quench China's growing thirst for fresh milk. China Dairy Corporation is considering expanding its milk supply operations into Australia to meet the insatiable demand for fresh milk, particularly for infants, in its homeland. The move has been welcomed by United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV), which says the local industry needs money to upgrade both dairy farms and processing facilities.

  • China Dairy to list on Aust sharemarket AAP - Mon, Nov 2, 2015 4:31 PM NZDT

    A major Chinese dairy company hopes Australian cows can help it quench China's growing thirst for fresh milk. China Dairy Corporation is considering expanding its milk supply operations into Australia to meet the insatiable demand for fresh milk, particularly for infants, in its homeland. China Dairy director David Batten says the Chinese dairy industry can't keep up with demand relying solely on domestic resources.

  • Asian pest puts squeeze on Florida fruit AAP - Fri, Oct 30, 2015 2:01 PM NZDT

    Victoria Barnes was about to harvest her early season avocados when the Oriental fruit fly reared its tiny head and all but shut down south Florida's $US1.6 billion ($A2.21 billion) agriculture industry. None of the 165 fruit flies trapped since August have been found on her property, yet the farmer estimates she has already lost 5,440 kilograms of fruit. In Florida, a land where invasive creatures are a constant threat to the natural balance -- from giant African snails to Burmese pythons to Argentine tegu lizards -- the Oriental fruit fly is considered among the most dangerous.