Crippling drought putting Australian farmers under intense strain

10 August, 2018, 16:13 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • 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.

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.

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.

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. "They are shooting them because they just can't afford to feed them any more", said Ms Tash Johnston, co-founder of charity Drought Angels.

News reports that New South Wales produces about twenty-five percent of Australia's agricultural output.

The US will subsidise farmers and buy unsold crops, among other measures; farmers growing soybeans, sorghum and wheat will get the most aid.


Authorities on Wednesday officially declared the entire state in drought. "Despite this large natural variability, underlying longer-term trends are evident in some regions, and these are likely to be climate change related".

The brown surrounds at the O'Brien farm echoes the experience of many other NSW farmers.

Conditions are similarly dire in Queensland to the north, where the state government says almost 60 percent of land is suffering drought conditions. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said earlier this week conditions were so bad that the country had to accept it was a "land of drought and flooding rains".

The NSW government has announced more than A$1 billion in drought relief measures, which include transport subsidies, waivers on farming costs, further bolstering the Farm Innovation Fund, animal welfare measures and mental health support.

This aerial photo shows cattle on a dry paddock in the drought-hit area of Quirindi in New South Wales.

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

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