Rural News

  • 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.

  • Manufacturers cautious about business AAP - Thu, Mar 19, 2015 9:40 AM NZDT

    Australia's manufacturers believe the general business climate for the next six months is on the improve. But they're not nearly as confident about that outcome as they were at the end of 2014, the latest ...

  • Farmers wary of producing organic milk Newstalk ZB - Thu, Mar 19, 2015 6:42 AM NZDT

    Fonterra is cranking up its production of organic milk products, but might find farmers not too enthusiastic about jumping on board.

  • Pay rise on cards for more SME staff AAP - Wed, Mar 18, 2015 5:22 PM NZDT

    If you work for a small business, you'll have a greater chance of getting a raise this year, new research shows. A national survey of more than 1,000 small businesses has found nearly a quarter of owners plan on giving staff a pay rise in 2015. MYOB chief executive Tim Reed says the number of small businesses planning to increase wages this year has risen and was particularly encouraging, given the uncertain political climate and drop in consumer and business confidence. Mr Reed said some small business owners were taking advantage of a fall in inflation to pay their staff more.

  • Dairy prices take hit Newstalk ZB - Wed, Mar 18, 2015 5:10 AM NZDT

    Global dairy prices have taken a big hit in this morning's auction.

  • Risky acquisition for Fonterra Newstalk ZB - Tue, Mar 17, 2015 7:39 AM NZDT

    Fonterra's acquisition of a chunk of a Chinese infant formula maker could prove risky for farmers.

  • Banana disease bigger threat than cyclone AAP - Mon, Mar 16, 2015 3:54 PM NZDT
    Banana disease bigger threat than cyclone

    A potentially devastating banana disease poses a more serious threat to the state's far north than Cyclone Nathan, a Queensland mayor has warned. Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon said on Monday that if the Panama TR4 disease spreads, the flow-on effects to the region would be widespread. Mr Shannon said the disease, which was recently detected on a farm near Tully, south of Cairns, could decimate the $570 million banana industry, reduce tourist numbers and raise the cost of living. He said the banana industry was labour intensive and relies heavily on backpackers, who would likely not stay and spend money in the region for as long if there was no year-round work on the farms.

  • Banana farmers to meet over disease threat AAP - Mon, Mar 16, 2015 10:36 AM NZDT
    Banana farmers to meet over disease threat

    Efforts to contain a potentially devastating disease threatening Queensland's banana industry remain focused on a prime growing area in the state's far north. Fresh test results from a farm near Tully, south of Cairns, have confirmed it's an outbreak of Panama TR4 disease, which wiped out the Northern Territory's banana industry in the 1990s. Growers are due to meet in Mareeba on Monday for an update on the threat posed by the fungal disease, which lives in soil and kills banana plants. "Probably at this point the focus remains on the Tully valley area," chief biosecurity officer Jim Thompson has told the ABC.

  • Suspect banana disease confirmed in Qld AAP - Sun, Mar 15, 2015 4:43 PM NZDT
    Suspect banana disease confirmed in Qld

    Further tests from a quarantined north Queensland banana farm have confirmed the presence of a fungal infection capable of devastating the industry.

  • Climate change 'could make steak worse' AAP - Sun, Mar 15, 2015 12:06 PM NZDT
    Climate change 'could make steak worse'

    A good old Aussie BBQ may not taste quite as good for future generations, according to new research. A study of the impact of climate change on 55 foods grown in Australia, found the quality of beef and chicken may plummet, eggplants may look weirder than they already do and carrots could taste worse. The report by researchers at the University of Melbourne said Australia's dry deserts will become hotter, heavy rain will increase in areas like NSW and cyclones will become less frequent but more intense in the north.

  • Minister downplays China blocking milk powder Newstalk ZB - Sun, Mar 15, 2015 10:40 AM NZDT

    As a milk powder shipment worth up to $2 million sits on the dock in China, the Minister for Primary Industries is downplaying the situation.

  • Qld banana growers receive dire news AAP - Fri, Mar 13, 2015 5:15 PM NZDT
    Qld banana growers receive dire news

    Three more north Queensland banana farmers have reported suspect plants that could be infected with a fungal infection threatening the industry's future. Residents are now asking the local council to consider closing roads to stop it spreading, Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon said. "The mood in the room was very, very sombre," Mr Shannon told AAP.

  • Banana disease has likely spread in Qld AAP - Fri, Mar 13, 2015 10:17 AM NZDT

    Authorities have told far north Queensland banana growers that its likely a destructive fungal disease had already spread from an infected farm at Tully. Growers were given the sombre news at a meeting ...

  • Fears rain may spread banana disease AAP - Thu, Mar 12, 2015 10:18 AM NZDT

    Biosecurity officers fear recent downpours in north Queensland may spread a fungal banana plant disease which has the potential to wipe out the $570 million industry. A farm near Tully, in the heart of the rich banana growing industry, was last week quarantined after initial tests came back positive for Panama TR4 disease. Biosecurity Queensland's Russell Gilmour says he's concerned recent heavy rain in the far north could spread the destructive disease as it lives in water and soil. "With this heavy rain that we've been getting unfortunately it is going to assist in spreading tropical race four Panama disease," he told AAP.

  • Agriculture pushing up growth Newstalk ZB - Wed, Mar 11, 2015 12:17 PM NZDT

    New Zealand's economy is on the rise, with figures from Statistics New Zealand showing agriculture is pushing up growth.

  • Formula poison threat exposed AAP - Tue, Mar 10, 2015 4:26 PM NZDT

    New Zealand police and the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) are investigating a threat to contaminate infant and other formula in an apparent protest over the use of 1080 poison for pest control. Police said, in a statement on Tuesday, that anonymous letters were received by Fonterra and Federated Farmers in November 2014, along with small packages of milk powder which have since tested positive for a concentrated 1080. The letters threatened to contaminate infant and other formula with 1080 unless New Zealand stopped using 1080 for pest control by the end of March. Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement said it was possible the threat was a hoax, but it needed to be treated seriously and an investigation was under way.

  • NZX halts trading in dairy stocks AAP - Tue, Mar 10, 2015 3:57 PM NZDT

    Trading in all NZX-listed dairy companies has been halted by the stock market operator, as police announce a threat to poison infant and other formula. Police said in a statement on Tuesday that anonymous letters were received by Fonterra and Federated Farmers in November 2014, along with small packages of milk powder which have since tested positive for a concentrated 1080 poison. Units in Fonterra Shareholders Fund, and shares of A2 Milk Company and Synlait Milk have all been placed in a trading halt.

  • Source of banana disease under scrutiny AAP - Mon, Mar 9, 2015 8:26 PM NZDT

    The number of Queensland banana farms being tested for a destructive fungal disease may rise as authorities try to trace the source. A farm near Tully, in the heart of the rich banana growing industry, was last week quarantined after initial tests came back positive for Panama TR4 disease. The fungal disease lives in the soil and kills the plant, but does not affect the fruit. Biosecurity Queensland began a tracing, surveillance and sampling program in the Tully region on Monday to try and locate the source and determine whether the disease has spread.

  • China FTZ a bust so far: US businesses AAP - Mon, Mar 9, 2015 1:01 PM NZDT

    Nearly three-quarters of American firms in Shanghai say China's first free trade zone (FTZ) offers them no business benefits almost 18 months after it was established. The Chinese commercial hub set up the FTZ in September 2013, promising a range of financial reforms, including full convertibility of the yuan currency and free interest rates, which remain unfulfilled. "More than one year after the FTZ's opening, US companies remain sceptical about the business benefits," the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said in its annual business climate report, released on Wednesday. A total of 73 per cent of the 377 member companies answering the survey said the FTZ offers "no tangible benefits" for their business, and almost half of them reported no noticeable changes for their operations so far.

  • $A weakens ahead of US non-farm payrolls AAP - Fri, Mar 6, 2015 7:15 PM NZDT

    The Australian dollar is weaker as traders await American employment figures. Traders will be watching US non-farm payrolls data for February to see if it increases the chance of a near-term interest rate rise by the US Federal Reserve, ANZ senior foreign exchange strategist Daniel Been said.

  • Bond market flat ahead of US jobs data AAP - Fri, Mar 6, 2015 6:42 PM NZDT

    The bond market is relatively steady as financial markets wait on the release of US employment figures. Traders want to see the February US non-farm payrolls data, to be unveiled on Friday night, before dipping back into the market, Commonwealth Bank head of debt research Adam Donaldson said. A healthy set of US jobs figures would be unlikely to substantially weaken the Australian bond market, as financial markets continue to expect another local interest rate cut, Mr Donaldson said.

  • Report finds climate change benefits AAP - Thu, Mar 5, 2015 2:39 PM NZDT

    Climate change could have economic spin-offs, a new government report says. The Intergenerational Report released on Thursday includes a chapter on "managing the environment", which has been a feature of previous versions of the five-yearly economic and budget update.

  • Destructive disease at Qld banana farm AAP - Wed, Mar 4, 2015 7:25 PM NZDT

    A north Queensland banana farm has been quarantined after testing positive for a potentially destructive fungal disease. Biosecurity Queensland has warned that the Panama TR4 disease would have serious consequences for the state's banana industry if it spread from the plantation near Tully, south of Cairns. Chief biosecurity officer Dr Jim Thompson says the affected farm has been isolated after an initial test for the disease came back positive on Tuesday night. "(The disease) poses a serious threat to the banana industry in Australia and obviously Queensland represents ninety-five per cent of that.

  • Modest rise in dairy price Newstalk ZB - Wed, Mar 4, 2015 8:38 AM NZDT

    A small movement in the latest dairy price index.

  • Falling Aussie good news for farmers AAP - Tue, Mar 3, 2015 3:03 PM NZDT

    A falling Australian dollar is good news for farmers. The value of farm exports are estimated to increase by nearly half a billion dollars for every one cent fall in the currency. The fall in the Australian dollar against the US dollar is expected to have a positive affect on farm incomes because close to 65 per cent of agricultural production is exported, and mostly contracted in US dollars. ABARES chief Karen Schneider says the currency's decline is in response to the nation's declining terms of trade and a narrowing differential in interest rates to other countries.

  • Farmers to get low-down on global outlook AAP - Tue, Mar 3, 2015 5:33 AM NZDT

    As the Reserve Bank board chews over another interest rate cut, the agriculture sector is about to hear the low-down on domestic and international economic outlooks. World Bank economist Ayhan Kose will address the annual two-day Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences conference in Canberra on Tuesday about the prospects for the global economy. National Australia Bank chief economist Alan Oster will provide a domestic perspective.

  • Warrnambool buys leading cheese brands AAP - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 7:23 PM NZDT
    Warrnambool buys leading cheese brands

    One of Australia's best known cheese brands, COON, is about to change from Japanese to Canadian ownership. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory, which is majority-owned by Canadian dairy giant Saputo Inc, is set to acquire the everyday cheese business of Lion Dairy and Drinks for $137.5 million. The everyday cheese business includes the cutting and wrapping, distribution, and sales and marketing of the COON, Cracker Barrel, Mil Lel and Fred Walker brands. COON cheddar cheese has been manufactured in Australia since 1935 and was originally made by Kraft.

  • Warrnambool to buy Lion everyday cheese AAP - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 7:02 PM NZDT
    Warrnambool to buy Lion everyday cheese

    One of Australia's best known cheese brands, COON, is about to change from Japanese to Canadian ownership. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory, which is majority-owned by Canadian dairy giant Saputo Inc, is set to acquire the everyday cheese business of Lion Dairy and Drinks for $137.5 million. The everyday cheese business includes the cutting and wrapping, distribution, and sales and marketing of the COON, Cracker Barrel, Mil Lel and Fred Walker brands. COON cheddar cheese has been manufactured in Australia since 1935 and was originally made by Kraft.