Rural News

  • Climate change to increase hay fever AAP - Thu, Aug 25, 2016 12:24 PM NZST
    Climate change to increase hay fever

    Millions more Britons could start to suffer from hay fever as a result of climate change, a study has suggested. Around one million people are currently thought to suffer hay fever from ragweed pollen but this figure could rise to more than six million by 2060, the study found. Researchers from across Europe, led by the University of East Anglia (UEA), estimated that across the continent the number of people who suffer an allergy to the pollen from the weed will increase from 33 million to 77 million over the same time frame.

  • Fonterra raises farmgate milk price AAP - Thu, Aug 25, 2016 10:16 AM NZST

    Dairy giant Fonterra has increased its forecast farm gate milk price for 2016/17 by NZ50 cents to NZ$4.75 ($A4.56) per kilogram of milk solids. Current global milk prices remain at unrealistically low ...

  • Formula boom helps A2 Milk double revenue AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 7:39 PM NZST
    Formula boom helps A2 Milk double revenue

    A2 Milk shares have dropped sharply after the company flagged the possible short-term impact of changing regulation in China. A2, which is listed on the Australian and New Zealand share markets, said growth domestically and in China lifted annual revenue to $NZ353 million from $NZ155 million, but managing director Geoffrey Babidge sounded a note of caution amid a generally positive outlook. "The company expects continued growth in the 2017 financial year, in particular from infant formula and milk powders in Australia and China and improved momentum in the US business," he said in a statement.

  • Qantas ends seven year dividend drought AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 7:27 PM NZST
    Qantas ends seven year dividend drought

    Qantas will pay a dividend to its long-suffering shareholders for the first time in seven years after the airline's full-year profit rose by 85 per cent to $1.03 billion, underpinned by a major operational overhaul and low oil prices. Chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline was now "a more agile business" and had a platform to invest for the future as a result of the transformation program that has cut thousands of jobs, revised the airline's fleet and unlocked $1.66 billion in cost and revenue benefits since early 2014. "Our transformation program is paying dividends for our shareholders, our customers and our employees," Mr Joyce said on Wednesday.

  • Bega Cheese doubles annual profit AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 7:15 PM NZST
    Bega Cheese doubles annual profit

    Dairy processor Bega Cheese says it's too early to say definitively if global dairy commodity prices are improving. Low dairy commodity prices resulting from global oversupply have resulted in dairy processors reining in the price that they pay dairy farmers for their milk. "There are some green shoots in the international market, and indeed there are many analysts reporting that the global commodity market will improve throughout 2017," Bega executive chairman Barry Irvin said on Wednesday.

  • Murray Goulburn to cut 200 jobs AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 6:18 PM NZST

    Two hundred jobs are set to go as Australia's biggest dairy producer, Murray Goulburn, works to regain the confidence of its suppliers and ease financial pressures on dairy farmers. Murray Goulburn established a milk supply support package (MSSP) for farmers following a shock retrospective cut to milk prices in April, with the funds loaned to farmers to meet short-term demands to be deducted from their future milk payments for up to three years from 2017. Interim chief executive David Mallinson says the cooperative has to regain the confidence of its farmers and suppliers.

  • Murray Goulburn to ease farmer pressure AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 4:54 PM NZST

    Australia's biggest dairy producer, Murray Goulburn, says it must regain the confidence of its suppliers and will try to ease pressure put on dairy farmers forced to make repayments following a shock retrospective cut to milk prices in April. Murray Goulburn established a milk supply support package (MSSP) for dairy farmers following the April price cut but money loaned under the the support package will be deducted from farmers' future milk payments for up to three years from 2017. Murray Goulburn interim chief executive David Mallinson said on Wednesday the cooperative had to regain the confidence of its farmers and suppliers.

  • A2 Milk hits FY profit as revenue doubles AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 2:23 PM NZST
    A2 Milk hits FY profit as revenue doubles

    A2 Milk shares have dropped almost seven per cent after the company flagged the possible short-term impact of changing regulation in China. A2, which is dual-listed on the ASX and NZX, said on Wednesday that growth domestically and in China lifted revenue to $NZ352.8 million from $NZ155.1 million, but managing director Geoffrey Babidge sounded a note of caution amid a generally positive outlook. "The company expects continued growth in the 2017 financial year, in particular from infant formula and milk powders in Australia and China and improved momentum in the US business," Mr Babidge said in a statement.

  • Bega Cheese more than doubles profit AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 12:56 PM NZST
    Bega Cheese more than doubles profit

    Dairy processor Bega Cheese expects continued revenue growth and improved financial performance in the 2017 financial year, after more than doubling its 2016 annual profit. Bega's net profit of $28.8 million for the 12 months to June 30 is up 132 per cent on last year's $12.4 million. Normalised profit, which excludes the impact of significant events, rose 33 per cent to $29.2 million.

  • Vic goes it alone on sheep, goat ID system AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 12:45 PM NZST
    Vic goes it alone on sheep, goat ID system

    A coordinated national ID system for sheep and goats is in doubt after Victoria's government announced its own microchip arrangements. Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford announced on Wednesday all sheep and goats born in Victoria from January 1, 2017 will require an electronic ID tag. "While the current national approach is a mob-based visual tag system, individual electronic tags offer greater traceability, productivity improvement and information for key international trading partners," Ms Pulford said in a statement.

  • Murray Goulburn flags lower sale prices AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 11:27 AM NZST

    Murray Goulburn says it expects to achieve lower sale prices for its dairy products in the 2016/17 financial year, with only a modest recovery forecast for the second half. Murray Goulburn has set its opening farmgate milk price for the 2016/17 year at $4.45 per kilo of milk solids, far below the $6.00 it flagged ahead of its July debut on the ASX.

  • Bega FY profit more than doubles AAP - Wed, Aug 24, 2016 10:39 AM NZST

    Bega Cheese has more than doubled full-year profit to $28.8 million, helped by cost cuts and strong sales growth. Excluding significant items, normalised profit rose 33 per cent to $29.2 million, the dairy ...

  • A2Milk, NZ's Synlait renew supply deal AAP - Tue, Aug 23, 2016 11:02 AM NZST

    A2 Milk Company has renewed an agreement for production of its branded infant formula by New Zealand dairy processor Synlait Milk. The two companies have signed a five-year supply agreement, with production ...

  • With ethanol, drivers don't really care AAP - Mon, Aug 22, 2016 4:01 PM NZST

    Farming and oil lobbies have spent more than a decade battling over government programs that require renewable fuels be blended with petrol, but a survey has shown motorists largely don't know or care what goes into their fuel tanks. The results show that multi-million dollar campaigns waged by corn farmers and the biofuel lobby to boost the use ethanol in fuels and by the oil industry defending the status quo, barely register with consumers and gas retailers. Most consumers are unaware of the ethanol content of their petrol, and seem not to care.

  • Historic industry faces climate change AAP - Mon, Aug 22, 2016 2:01 PM NZST

    After centuries of weathering overfishing, pollution, foreign competition and increasing government regulation, the latest challenge is the one that's doing them in: climate change. Lobster catches in Maine are booming as the species creeps northward, but as the warming continues, that's a good thing bound to end. For the fishermen of the northeastern US - not all of whom accept the scientific consensus on climate change, and many of whom bristle at government regulations stemming from it - whether to stick with fishing, adapt to the changing ocean or leave the business is a constant worry.

  • Flooding in South puts a damper on US rice AAP - Mon, Aug 22, 2016 12:25 PM NZST
    Flooding in South puts a damper on US rice

    Heavy rain that brought record flooding to Louisiana recently has put a damper on the US's harvest of rice, a food staple that usually likes water as it grows but can't be gathered by machine if fields are inundated. While rice is an aquatic plant, this is the time of year when farmers drain their land and roll in heavy equipment for the harvest. Some fields remain unreachable in parts of Arkansas and Louisiana.

  • ACCC considers dairy industry scrutiny AAP - Thu, Aug 18, 2016 3:35 PM NZST
    ACCC considers dairy industry scrutiny

    Dairy farmers and milk processors may come under scrutiny from the consumer watchdog amid growing concerns about issues in the industry. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims ...

  • Calls for milk profits to go to farmers AAP - Wed, Aug 17, 2016 10:12 PM NZST

    A cheap milk boycott prompted by widespread concern for dairy farmers in need could lead to an additional $113 million spent on milk nationally. "If the current private-label milk boycott continues, consumers look set to spend tens-of-millions more this year in the belief that purchasing branded milk will result in farmers receiving a bigger pay day," Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said in a statement on Wednesday.

  • Fonterra's Waller steps down AAP - Wed, Aug 17, 2016 7:39 PM NZST
    Fonterra's Waller steps down

    Fonterra's independent director John Waller will resign from the board of the world's biggest dairy exporter to cut back on his workload. Mr Waller will leave at the end of August, having been on the board of Fonterra since 2009, Fonterra announced on Wednesday. During his tenure, he chaired Fonterra's fair value share review committee, the Trading Among Farmers due diligence committee and the Milk Price Panel, and was a member of the audit and finance committee and the risk committee.

  • School milk wouldn't help farmers: Drum AAP - Wed, Aug 17, 2016 9:42 AM NZST

    Reinstating the school milk run won't help dairy farmers in regional Victoria, a new federal Nationals MP says. Damian Drum described the situation for many of the farmers in his Goulburn Valley region as terrible, following a decision by milk giant Murray Goulburn to slash prices and ask for previous payments to be returned. Amongst measures proposed by independent senator Nick Xenophon to help fix the crisis in the industry, is reinstating the free school milk program for primary schools.

  • Govt hints at extra dairy farmer help AAP - Wed, Aug 17, 2016 5:33 AM NZST

    The federal government has hinted it could go further on a dairy assistance package to help struggling farmers hit by the milk price crisis. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says he's looking what further action can be taken to top up to the $579 million support package consisting of social security payments and cheap loans. Mr Joyce and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have met with Murray Goulburn executives seeking answers over the milk giant's decision to retrospectively slash prices.

  • We'll try extra dairy farmer help: govt AAP - Tue, Aug 16, 2016 10:34 PM NZST
    We'll try extra dairy farmer help: govt

    Struggling dairy farmers could get further help after the federal government flagged extra assistance for producers hit by the milk price crisis. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says he'll try for further action to top up the government's dairy assistance package of social security payments and cheap loans. Mr Joyce and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met with Murray Goulburn executives in Canberra on Tuesday seeking answers over the milk giant's decision to retrospectively slash prices.

  • Work together to resolve milk crisis:Joyce AAP - Tue, Aug 16, 2016 8:40 PM NZST
    Work together to resolve milk crisis:Joyce

    The federal government has urged dairy farmers and processors to work together on resolving the milk price crisis, saying their strength and profitability are dependent on each other. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his deputy Barnaby Joyce in Canberra on Tuesday met with Murray Goulburn executives seeking answers over the milk giant's decision to retrospectively slash prices. There are also questions as to whether Murray Goulburn could have warned producers about the market downturn sooner.

  • Farmers, PM seek answers from milk giant AAP - Tue, Aug 16, 2016 1:15 PM NZST
    Farmers, PM seek answers from milk giant

    Dairy farmers want Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to push for answers when he sits down with Murray Goulburn executives following the milk giant's decision to slash prices. Mr Turnbull will honour an election pledge when he and deputy Barnaby Joyce, who is also agriculture minister, meet with management of Australia's largest dairy foods company in Canberra on Tuesday. Murray Goulburn retrospectively cut the price it paid to farmers and required them to pay back the difference, affecting around 2500 producers who owe an estimated $200 million.

  • Some fear for food traditions under Brexit AAP - Tue, Aug 16, 2016 12:01 PM NZST

    Welsh farmers like Rees Roberts, who has 405 hectares with sheep, cattle and crops, can expect to earn a premium on their meats thanks to a certificate of regional authenticity. The certificates, of which there are 73 across Britain for goods like Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray pork pies, not only help farmers earn more but also shape rural communities' identities. Add to that the loss of $A5 billion in EU subsidies for UK farmers, potential new tariffs and fears that agriculture will not be prioritized in trade talks with the EU, and the decision to leave the 28-nation bloc promises to be painful.

  • PM, Joyce to meet with Murray Goulburn AAP - Tue, Aug 16, 2016 9:58 AM NZST
    PM, Joyce to meet with Murray Goulburn

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his deputy Barnaby Joyce will sit down with heads of milk giant Murray Goulburn, as its decision to cut prices continues to hurt the industry. Tuesday's meeting follows the announcement of a support package, which includes loans for farmers, made during the federal election campaign. Mr Turnbull promised in June to sit down with management if he was re-elected.

  • NAB 3Q profit hit by bad and doubtful debt AAP - Mon, Aug 15, 2016 7:27 PM NZST
    NAB 3Q profit hit by bad and doubtful debt

    National Australia Bank's third-quarter profit fell by three per cent after the cost of bad and doubtful debts rose 21 per cent, mostly due to exposures in mining and agriculture. The lender's unaudited cash profit for the June quarter was $1.6 billion, with bad and doubtful debt charges rising to $228 million in the wake of similar recent announcements by rivals Westpac, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank. UBS banking analyst Jonathan Mott said the slip in NAB's asset quality was only "modest", and shares in the bank recovered from an early dip to finish Monday's session almost one per cent higher.

  • NAB shares seesaw as 3Q profit slips 3% AAP - Mon, Aug 15, 2016 1:40 PM NZST
    NAB shares seesaw as 3Q profit slips 3%

    National Australia Bank shares have gone on a wild ride as investors digest a three per cent fall in third-quarter profit due to a jump in costs for bad and doubtful debts. The rollercoaster ride came after NAB announced a cash profit for the June quarter of $1.6 billion, with bad and doubtful debt charges up 21 per cent to $228 million - mostly due to exposure to mining and agriculture. The rise in bad debt costs mirrors those at NAB's big four rivals, with Westpac, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank all announcing a rise in bad or doubtful debts last week.

  • NAB 3Q profit dips on bad debt increase AAP - Mon, Aug 15, 2016 10:58 AM NZST
    NAB 3Q profit dips on bad debt increase

    National Australia Bank's third-quarter profit has dropped about three per cent because of a jump in bad and doubtful debts in regions associated with mining and agriculture. The lender on Monday said cash profit for the three months to June 30 was $1.6 billion, with bad and doubtful debt charges rising 21 per cent to $228 million. The rise in bad debts mirrors those at NAB's major rivals, with Westpac, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank all announcing a rise in bad or doubtful debts last week.

  • Westpac reports 3Q rise in stressed assets AAP - Thu, Aug 11, 2016 2:59 PM NZST
    Westpac reports 3Q rise in stressed assets

    Westpac shares have dropped more than 2.5 per cent after it reported a small increase in stressed assets, partly due to higher mortgage delinquencies in WA, SA and Queensland. The lender says the rise in mortgage repayments more than 90 days overdue and an increase in assets on its watchlist had pushed its stressed exposures for the three months to June 30 up to 1.15 per cent of total exposures. The increase in watchlist and substandard assets to $1.4 billion reflected stress in the New Zealand dairy industry and challenges facing some business customers in mining-related regions.

  • Farmers plant rye as whiskey sales soar AAP - Wed, Aug 10, 2016 1:01 PM NZST

    North American farmers are turning back to a neglected crop, sowing fields with the largest rye crop in years as consumers satisfy a growing thirst for whiskey. Rye fell out of favour during the past decade as other crops produced bigger profits. US farmers planted 712,250 hectares for the 2016/17 season, the biggest area since 1989 and a 12 per cent year-over-year increase, according to US Department of Agriculture.

  • CBA flags concerns despite $9.45bn profit AAP - Wed, Aug 10, 2016 12:29 PM NZST
    CBA flags concerns despite $9.45bn profit

    Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev has cited weak wages growth and political uncertainty as threats to Australia's economy, even as the country's biggest bank unveiled a seventh straight record profit of $9.45 billion. Cash profit for the 12 months to June 30 was up 3.4 per cent on the previous year but Mr Narev on Wednesday said that slow economic growth remained a concern. Statutory profit was up 1.8 per cent at $9.23 billion, while its loan impairment expense jumped 27 per cent from a year ago to $1.26 billion, largely due to exposures to the resources, commodity and dairy sectors.

  • South Korea crackdown on free gifts AAP - Mon, Aug 8, 2016 4:01 PM NZST

    Lavish free meals, rounds of golf and expensive gifts of beef and ginseng will soon be off-limits for civil servants, teachers and journalists in South Korea under a law aimed at clamping down on graft that has long been pervasive in professional life. The anti-corruption law that takes effect in September imposes spending limits on entertainment and gifts, curbing a tradition of hospitality that many restaurants, retailers and farmers worry will deal a blow to business. This is nonsense," Yoo Byoung-hee, a cattle breeder in Jecheon, south of Seoul, told Reuters by telephone.

  • Class action suit launched over oil spill AAP - Wed, Aug 3, 2016 4:15 PM NZST
    Class action suit launched over oil spill

    A class action lawsuit worth more than $200 million would help reboot the Indonesian seaweed farming industry seven years after it was devastated by a massive oil spill, lawyers say. More than 13,000 Indonesian seaweed farmers have joined the class action against Perth-based gas producer PTTEP Australasia claiming that more than 300,000 litres of oil and gas spewed daily into the Timor Sea after an explosion at a Montara oil rig on August 21, 2009. It was eventually plugged on November 3, but by then about 10 Olympic swimming pools worth of toxic sludge - comprising oil, gas and dispersant - had spilled, lawyers for the seaweed farmers claim.

  • Qld govt sour over sweetener debt AAP - Tue, Aug 2, 2016 6:33 PM NZST

    Relations appeared to have soured between the Queensland government and a Switzerland-based company over the development of a natural low-calorie sweetener. Nutraceutical and Natural Products agreed in May 2014 to pay the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for 50kg of the sugar cane extract, PlantZap, which it would then distribute to potential clients. In an application lodged to the Brisbane Supreme Court, the department claims NNP has not paid for the product and still owes it about $182,000 in fees and interest.