Despair as crippling drought hammers Australian farmers

Despair as crippling drought hammers Australian farmers

According to the Department of Primary Industries, 61 per cent of NSW is either in drought or intense drought, while almost 39 per cent is drought affected.

Farmers are struggling as 100 per cent of NSW is impacted by drought but there's no relief in sight with drier than normal conditions forecast for the coming months.

While the country is no stranger to "big drys" and its people have long had a reputation as resilient, the extreme conditions across swathes of Australia's east are the worst in more than 50 years.

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.

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According to Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, the latest drought update confirms what many farmers across the state have seen, with only 0-10mm of rain recorded over the past month in the Western, North West and Central areas of NSW.

"Anybody on the land that will make a phone call to the Department of Environment can get permission to shoot nearly whatever they want to shoot and it's unaudited and unchecked and that's our concern - animal welfare", Borda told Australian Broadcasting Corp. "They are shooting them because they just can't afford to feed them anymore", Tash Johnston, cofounder of Drought Angels NGO, told AFP news agency.

It includes two lump sum payments worth up to Aus$12,000 per household, and changes to an assets test to grant support to thousands more farmers. Farm reservoirs have dried up and crops are failing. New South Wales was officially listed as “100% in drought” on Wednesday, with 23% of the region deemed to be in “intense drought”, leading state and federal governments to offer A$576m (£330m; $430m) in emergency relief funding.

The state government last month quietly amended its drought map in response to fierce criticism from farmers without a green blade of grass, whose properties were categorised as being merely in "drought onset". On July 30, the New South Wales government announced a $740.6 million aid package to help farmers through the drought.

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