Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

'Worst drought in living memory': Australia's big dry

Heidi Taylor 7 kicks up dust on the family farm outside Coonabarabran in New South Wales BROOK MITCHELL GETTY IMAGES Heidi Taylor 7 kicks up dust on the family farm outside Coonabarabran in New South Wales
Sandra Phillips | 10 August, 2018, 16:14

Australia relaxed rules about shooting kangaroos in New South Wales (NSW) Wednesday as the state was declared "100% in drought" after months of little or no rain.

In Australia, farmers were officially allowed to kill marsupials.

Unable to feed their livestock, many have been forced to sell or slaughter stock, sending the cattle industry into a decline that could take years to recover.

New South Wales officials released figures on Wednesday showing that every part of the state is affected, with nearly one-quarter classified as being in "intense drought". Others have been forced to shoot starving cattle.

The sight of wide expanses of dry earth greets farmers every day around the state.

"Many farmers are taking livestock off their paddocks, only to then see kangaroos move in and take whatever is left", Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair.

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State and federal governments are providing financial help, but not enough for many farmers.

There was also cash for counselling and mental health services, with drought-related stress and even suicide a mounting concern, compounded by the isolation many feel on their remote properties.

It includes two lump sum payments worth up to A$12,000 per household, and changes to an assets test to grant support to thousands more farmers. "We recognise that. It's a very volatile and often capricious climate and Australian farmers are resilient, they plan for drought, they are good managers but it can become really overwhelming", said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Separately, the state government announced a $500 million emergency relief package last Monday, raising the state's total drought support to more than A$1 billion.

Across Southern Australia, 2018 saw the second-driest autumn on record, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, with rainfall 57mm (2.24in) below average, with less than 10mm of rain was recorded in parts of NSW in July, and drier than normal conditions are forecast in coming months, as reported by the BBC.

"This increase will give farming families what they sorely lack during drought-cash income".

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