Rural News

  • Debbie-affected Qlders to receive $15m AAP - 8 hours ago
    Debbie-affected Qlders to receive $15m

    Queensland farmers and small business owners affected by Cyclone Debbie will receive almost $15 million in disaster funding from the federal and state governments. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement about the Category C entitlements on Thursday afternoon. Mr Turnbull said $14.7 million would be made available to people in the Gold Coast, Isaac, Logan, Mackay, Rockhampton, Scenic Rim and Whitsunday council areas to help address "medium to long-term recovery needs".

  • Debbie affected Qlders to receive $15m AAP - 12 hours ago

    Queenslander farmers and small businesses affected by Cyclone Debbie will receive almost $15 million in disaster funding from the federal and state governments. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Queensland ...

  • Plant pest can't be eradicated in Aust AAP - Wed, Apr 26, 2017 8:31 PM NZST

    A destructive plant pest found for the first time in Australia in February cannot be eradicated, so the industry will seek to manage it, rather than destroy it. The Department of Food and Agriculture WA said on Tuesday it would work on a plan to control the tomato potato psyllid, which attacks a range of vegetable crops including tomato, eggplant, capsicum, chilli and tamarillo. Department biosecurity and regulation executive director Kevin Chennell said the focus would be on control options on farms, supply chain management and restoring access to interstate markets.

  • Bounce in China sales boosts a2 Milk AAP - Wed, Apr 26, 2017 7:17 PM NZST

    Shares in the a2 Milk company have jumped more than seven per cent to record highs as the company achieves stronger-than-expected infant formula sales in China and Australia. In February, a2 Milk said its sales in the second half of the financial year would be lower than in the first half, because major selling events in China were weighted towards the first six months. "Demand has been particularly strong in Australia, but also through the cross border e-commerce channel into China," the company said in a statement.

  • Former coal mine to become a solar farm AAP - Wed, Apr 26, 2017 2:31 PM NZST

    A former strip mine would be converted into a solar farm under a proposal announced by an Appalachian coal company that says it wants to place hundreds of thousands of panels in the Kentucky mountains. The Berkeley Energy Group, EDF Renewable Energy and former Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen said they are looking at two mountaintop removal sites just outside of Pikeville in the heart of Kentucky's coal country.

  • Joyce scolds 'tardy' Qld over funding AAP - Wed, Apr 26, 2017 1:46 PM NZST
    Joyce scolds 'tardy' Qld over funding

    Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says disaster relief for Queensland farmers and small businesses affected by Cyclone Debbie is "imminent", despite a "tardy" state government effort. Speaking in Brisbane on Wednesday, Mr Joyce said the only reason the Category C funding hadn't come through yet was because of Labor's "tardy application process". Pressed on Wednesday to say what he was still waiting on, Mr Joyce repeated earlier complaints about an initial three-page document sent by the Queensland government compared to NSW's 45-page effort.

  • China rebound fuels A2 Milk hopes AAP - Wed, Apr 26, 2017 12:36 PM NZST

    Infant formula maker a2 Milk has upgraded its full-year revenue forecast following stronger-than-expected sales in Australia and China during the March quarter. The company, which is listed on the ASX and NZ stock exchange, said revenue surged 49 per cent to $NZ388 million ($A357.5 million) in the nine months to March 31. Demand for its baby formula in China and Australia has exceeded expectations and the company now expects its second half sales will be higher than in the first half.

  • A2 Milk expects 49% surge in FY sales AAP - Wed, Apr 26, 2017 10:55 AM NZST

    A2 Milk expects its full-year revenue to surge 49 per cent on the back of stronger-than-expected infant formula sales in the March quarter. The dual-listed company says Chinese and Australian demand for infant formula in the quarter helped sales revenue hit $NZ388 million ($A357.5 million) in the nine months to March 31. A2 Milk now forecasts revenue to surge to $NZ525 million in the 2017 financial year, from $NZ352.8 million the previous year.

  • Destructive weed threatens US corn fields AAP - Fri, Apr 21, 2017 2:01 PM NZST

    The weed is hard to kill and, if left unchecked, destroys as much as 91 per cent of corn on infested land, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is spreading across Iowa, which accounts for nearly a fifth of US corn production and in 2016 exported more than $US1 billion ($A1.3 billion) of corn and soy. The destructive weed - Palmer amaranth - has spread through seed sold to farmers in the conservation program, according to Iowa's top weeds scientist, Bob Hartzler, and the conservation group Pheasants Forever.

  • Trumps turns his new ire to Canada and TPP AAP - Fri, Apr 21, 2017 8:41 AM NZST
    Trumps turns his new ire to Canada and TPP

    President Trump has shut down speculation the US will join talks to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership, describing the colossal free trade pact proposal with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and eight other nations as a "catastrophe". The president also slammed Canada for its dairy, timber, lumber and energy trade exports to the US, but he uncharacteristically chose not to criticise China. Trump's comments came at an Oval Office ceremony on Thursday where, surrounded by steel executives and union leaders, he signed a memorandum ordering an investigation into foreign steel imports and how they threaten US national security.

  • More hydro power on federal agenda AAP - Thu, Apr 20, 2017 6:38 PM NZST
    More hydro power on federal agenda

    Malcolm Turnbull is boosting his renewable energy credentials by providing federal funding for another study into expanding Australia's hydro storage, this time in Tasmania. It comes as Labor accuses the prime minister of giving gas companies a wet lettuce leaf flogging in his bid to persuade them to increase domestic supply. Mr Turnbull also confirmed on Thursday his government is looking at building a multi-billion dollar pipeline to bring gas from Western Australia to the east coast - an idea climate experts dismiss as ridiculous and expensive.

  • Watching grass grow is dull but profitable AAP - Thu, Apr 20, 2017 3:39 PM NZST

    Maia Technology launched its online grazing management tool called MaiaGrazing at the University of New England's SMART Farm at Armidale in NSW on Thursday. Maia Technology chief executive Peter Richardson says MaiaGrazing uses information that farmers collect by observing their paddocks and animals to provide a visual forecast of the feed supply and the appropriate number of animals. "It's basically all about helping graziers make better profits," Mr Richardson said.

  • Farmers avoid loss with insured crabs, tea AAP - Thu, Apr 20, 2017 3:01 PM NZST

    Ma Rongda, a tea grower for nearly 30 years, knows how badly his business can be affected by extreme weather. "I bought insurance for my tea plantations," he explained. For an annual premium of some 7,000 yuan ($A1,347), the 46-year-old received compensation of more than 220,000 yuan - enough to cover all of his production costs.

  • Prawn farmers call for Qantas compensation AAP - Thu, Apr 20, 2017 2:56 PM NZST
    Prawn farmers call for Qantas compensation

    Queensland prawn farmers are seeking compensation from Qantas after toxic firefighting foam leaked from its hangar into the Brisbane River. The state government urged recreational fishers to steer clear of the area last Friday, but commercial operators were not notified until Tuesday, more than one week after the spill. Moreton Bay Seafood Association vice president Michael Wood he lost a $10,000 order because of fears the waterways were contaminated.

  • US Muslim investor tries louder voice AAP - Thu, Apr 20, 2017 2:01 PM NZST

    Shareholder activism is rare in Islamic finance, but one wealth manager has staked out new territory as the most outspoken voice among Muslim investors in the United States. Working from an office in Falls Church, Virginia, Bashar Qasem was the only Islamic financial representative among religious shareholder advocates who sent a letter in February to protest against US President Donald Trump's travel ban. It was only one of a number of such moves since 2015, when Qasem's Azzad Asset Management firm started weighing in on issues like worker safety, climate change and lobbying disclosures.

  • Aust's largest solar farm proposed for Qld AAP - Wed, Apr 19, 2017 5:45 PM NZST

    A Queensland company is seeking council approval to build what it says would be Australia's largest solar farm, with hopes it could power more than 300,000 homes. Solar Q lodged a development application with Gympie Regional Council on Tuesday for a 350-megawatt site, to be located about 30km northwest of Gympie, in the first of three development stages. Managing director Scott Armstrong said, if approved, the $2 billion solar farm and battery storage facility would aim to source labour from Gympie, and would not take up prime agricultural land.

  • Emissions-peak by 2020: ex-UN climate head AAP - Tue, Apr 18, 2017 12:01 PM NZST

    World emissions must peak by 2020 and decline soon after that if countries are to achieve their Paris climate goals and prevent global warming from spiralling to harmful levels, a former UN climate chief says. Under the Paris Agreement, countries pledged to keep global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in the second half of the century. "In order to be a decarbonised economy by 2050, we have to bend the (emissions) curve by 2020," said Christiana Figueres.

  • Farmers shift tactics to avoid deluges AAP - Thu, Apr 13, 2017 4:01 PM NZST

    For a long time, slash and burn agriculture was a way of life for Funghkal Bawn. Like other farmers from the ethnic Bawn community, in the Chittagong Hill Tract area of Bangladesh, he used to clear a new strip of land every season on the slopes near his village of Farukpara. Now Bawn sows a mixture of traditional crops and other plants on the hill slopes, to minimise his losses if any natural disaster hits his crop land again.

  • We aim to deliver Debbie money ASAP: Joyce AAP - Thu, Apr 13, 2017 10:52 AM NZST

    The federal government is working as fast as it can to get much-needed disaster relief money to Queensland farmers hit by Cyclone Debbie, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says. Mr Joyce said on Thursday that the Tweed and Lismore council areas had been granted Category C funding after a "competent application" from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the federal government was working with Queensland to make sure its application was also approved. "With NSW, the total package is slightly less than $20 million and I think Queensland is looking for slightly more than that," he said in Sydney.

  • Landslides killing hundreds in Indonesia AAP - Wed, Apr 12, 2017 7:07 PM NZST
    Landslides killing hundreds in Indonesia

    It was raining heavily the night Putu Gede Swastika dug a family out of mud following a landslide in his Bali village. "Many children have been orphaned," Mr Swastika told AAP. The frequency and intensity of these disasters are worsening as people clear land to meet farming, industry and housing needs and the country grapples with the effects of climate change, spokesman for Indonesia's disaster management agency BNPB, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

  • Ethical investment lifts $US23 trillion AAP - Tue, Apr 11, 2017 3:01 PM NZST

    Investors are ploughing ever more into ethical funds to back their views on issues such as global warming and gender equality, but such investments can be confusingly similar to standard funds, except for higher fees and 'green halo' marketing. The $US23 trillion ($302 trillion) "sustainable, responsible and impact" (SRI) investment sector has received a rush of money since the Paris climate agreement and, more recently, in protest against US president Donald Trump's plans to slash environmental regulations. Europe is the dominant region for such investments, with $US12.04 trillion, followed by the United States, with $US8.72 trillion, while Asia lags some way behind.

  • Innovative financing sours dairy giant AAP - Tue, Apr 11, 2017 2:01 PM NZST

    The crisis at one of China's biggest dairy companies is a stark reminder of what can lurk in the dark corners of corporate China, where rapid growth can go hand in hand with tangled finances and heavy debt. China Huishan Dairy Holdings embraced what its executives called "innovative financing", from the sale and leaseback of its cows, to selling wealth management products for rich investors - financial antics that seem incongruous with the dusty fields, tin-roofed sheds and plastic greenhouses of Zhangwu county in northeast China. It has also reported a key finance executive missing.

  • Coal biz ask Trump to honour climate deal AAP - Tue, Apr 11, 2017 1:01 PM NZST

    Some big American coal companies have advised President Donald Trump's administration to break his promise to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement - arguing that the accord could provide their best forum for protecting their global interests. Remaining in the global deal to combat climate change will give US negotiators a chance to advocate for coal in the future of the global energy mix, coal companies like Cloud Peak Energy Inc and Peabody Energy Corp have told White House officials over the past few weeks, according to executives and a US official familiar with the discussions.

  • Origin to get SA solar power AAP - Tue, Apr 11, 2017 12:46 PM NZST
    Origin to get SA solar power

    Origin Energy has formalised an agreement to buy all the generated power from the Bungala solar plant in South Australia after the project achieved financial closure. The energy producer and retailer in February signed a conditional power purchase agreement with the developer Reach Solar to buy the entire 220 megawatts from the project, taking to 550 MW its new solar capacity agreements signed over the last year. Origin said on Tuesday it expects to start receiving power from the first stage of the solar farm by the summer of 2017/18, while the entire 220 MW is expected to be operational by August 2018.

  • China launches EU charm offensive AAP - Tue, Apr 4, 2017 4:01 PM NZST

    China has launched a charm offensive with the European Union since US president Donald Trump took office, shifting its stance on trade negotiations and signalling closer co-operation on a range of other issues, European diplomats say. European envoys in Brussels and Beijing sense a greater urgency from China to find allies willing to stand up for globalisation amid fears Trump could undermine it with his protectionist "America First" policies. "Trump is pushing China and Europe together," said one Beijing-based diplomat, citing Chinese support for trade, combating climate change and the United Nations, all areas where the new US president is seeking a change of tack.

  • Small business tax deal struck with Senate AAP - Fri, Mar 31, 2017 7:05 PM NZDT
    Small business tax deal struck with Senate

    The Turnbull government has sealed a deal with Senate crossbenchers to deliver a tax cut for businesses with an annual turnover under $50 million. Senator Cormann told parliament on Friday the government had agreed to explore and pursue a "power affordability and reliability policy" developed by the Climate Change Authority and Australian Energy Market Commission. The delivery of a solar-thermal plant for Port Augusta would be sped up, with a loan provided by the federal government.

  • Sugar code leaves Labor with bitter taste AAP - Fri, Mar 31, 2017 4:57 PM NZDT
    Sugar code leaves Labor with bitter taste

    The federal opposition is fuming about a proposed code of conduct for the sugar industry, fearing it will drive investors away and risk an international trade agreement. Senior Labor MPs were briefed on the code after challenging Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to make the secret deal public before the regulation is made, and say they've only grown more concerned. Mr Joyce, who is also agriculture minister, says the code is designed to ensure grower choice in marketing and give all parties access to arbitration and mediation.

  • Vatican slams Trump on climate change AAP - Fri, Mar 31, 2017 10:16 AM NZDT
    Vatican slams Trump on climate change

    The Vatican has urged US President Donald Trump to listen to "dissenting voices" and reconsider his position on climate change, saying the United States risked being supplanted by China as leader in environmental protection. Pope Francis has made defence of the environment a key plank of his papacy, strongly backing scientific opinion that global warming is caused mostly by human activity. "This is a challenge for us," said Cardinal Peter Turkson, the pope's point man for the environmental, immigration and development.

  • SA to get huge solar farm, battery in 2017 AAP - Thu, Mar 30, 2017 7:01 PM NZDT
    SA to get huge solar farm, battery in 2017

    A huge $1 billion solar farm and battery project will be built and ready to operate in South Australia's Riverland region by the end of the year. Battery storage developer Lyon Group says the system will be the biggest of its kind in the world, boasting 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries. The company says construction will start in months and the project will be built whatever the outcome of the SA government's tender for a large battery to store renewable energy.

  • SA's Riverland to get $1bln solar project AAP - Thu, Mar 30, 2017 6:59 PM NZDT
    SA's Riverland to get $1bln solar project

    A huge $1 billion solar farm and battery will be built and ready to operate in South Australia's Riverland region by the end of the year. Large-scale battery storage developer Lyon Group says it will start building the system, made up of 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries, in the coming months.

  • Code of conduct for sugar industry AAP - Thu, Mar 30, 2017 12:25 AM NZDT
    Code of conduct for sugar industry

    The Turnbull government has announced a code of conduct for the sugar industry following an ongoing dispute between sugar marketer QSL and miller Wilmar in Queensland. Treasurer Scott Morrison says the code will be introduced to parliament by regulation next week and will come into force the day after. Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said he would have preferred it if QSL and Wilmar had worked out a solution themselves.

  • Investors urge suppliers deforestation cut AAP - Wed, Mar 29, 2017 3:01 PM NZDT

    Dozens of global investors representing more than $617 billion ($A805 billion) in assets under management are demanding that companies adopt "zero deforestation" policies in Latin America to combat the effects of climate change, a firm advising the investors says. Thirty-nine investors have joined forces to urge companies to adopt a similar policy to the region's soy moratorium, which has helped reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon by two thirds, Green Century Capital Management says. Kate Kroll, who co-ordinates the Boston-based firm's forest protection campaign, said corporations that source food from areas where large tracts of land have been cleared of forests to make way for agriculture, face reputational risks.

  • Flooding threatens flattened $1b cane crop AAP - Wed, Mar 29, 2017 1:45 PM NZDT

    Cyclone Debbie has flattened mature cane crops in north Queensland, and anxious farmers are now waiting to see whether further damage will be caused by flooding. More than 1000 cane growers live in the area, and are responsible for supplying around half of Australia's $2 billion sugar industry. "We do know that hundreds of hectares of sugarcane has been flattened by cyclone Debbie's winds with the Mackay and Proserpine districts the worst affected," Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan said.

  • Brexit draws US, Russian, Chinese interest AAP - Wed, Mar 29, 2017 1:01 PM NZDT

    China, Russia and the United States are taking an interest in Brexit, a World Trade Organization source says, after a question about a tricky but vital reform required by Britain arose at the Geneva-based trade body. The question, posed at the WTO's agriculture committee by Indonesia, was about how Britain would handle its agricultural tariff system and preferential trade scheme for poorer countries after Britain leaves the European Union. The US, Argentina, China and Russia all registered their interest in the matter, the WTO source said.

  • Trump takes aim at Obama climate efforts AAP - Tue, Mar 28, 2017 6:40 PM NZDT
    Trump takes aim at Obama climate efforts

    President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday that will suspend, rescind or flag for review more than a half-dozen measures that were part of Barack Obama's sweeping plan to curb global warming. It includes a review of the Clean Power Plan, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. The president's order will also lift a 14-month-old moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands.