Australians eat ‘parma’ for drought-stricken farmers

Ambrose Doolan works with his wife Lisa on their property outside Coonabrabran

While this drought has been intense and sustained, the “millennium drought” of 1997-2005 is still considered to have been the most devastating affecting nearly 50% of Australias agricultural land.

A crippling drought is ravaging vast tracts of Australia's pastoral heartlands, decimating herds and putting desperate farmers under intense financial and emotional strain, with little relief in sight.

With dry conditions forecast to continue for the next three months, farmers had to decide whether to continue the expensive and laborious task of hand-feeding cattle and sheep or sell their livestock.

The state government said on Wednesday that 100 per cent of New South Wales' land area of more than 800,000 square kilometres was now in drought.

June and July were much drier than expected and just 0-10 millimetres of rain fell over the past month in the west, northwest and central areas of NSW, resulting in failing crops, water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain stock. Others have been forced to shoot starving cattle. "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.

What is drought and when is it declared?

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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. The state governments would also be asked to submit reports on drought condition, so that relevant relief measures can be implemented.

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 are the land of droughts and flooding rains".

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, said: "We will stand with Australia's farming families every step of the way as they cope with this devastating drought: listening, caring, responding and delivering".

4 / 4 Some parts of New South Wales have experienced the lowest rainfall on record over the past year.

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