Friday, 17 August, 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
Sandy Nunez | 10 August, 2018, 20:43

"They are shooting their stock because they don't want them to suffer. 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.

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

Many face the prospect of abandoning their homes altogether - some after being on the land for generations.

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".

However, the state government has refused to officially declare the drought a natural disaster akin to a flood or bushfire and ignored an offer of military help. The state governments would also be asked to submit reports on drought condition, so that relevant relief measures can be implemented.

The Government has responded with a compensation package to help rural communities, including two lump sum payments worth up to A$12,000 for eligible households.

Showtime chief says risk paid off with Sacha Baron Cohen TV show
However, he was let off the hook when President Trump issued his first ever presidential pardon to Arpaio in August 2017. Arpaio appeared surprised by the answer, but no further reaction from him was shown during the four-minute segment.

The Bureau of Meteorology's latest climate outlook for the next three months is predicting high chances of warmer and drier conditions over the drought-affected regions.

"We are the land of droughts and flooding rains".

Much of southeastern Australia is struggling with drought but conditions in New South Wales are the driest and most widespread since 1965. "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.

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.

Others have had to bulldoze orchards or lose their farms, leaving entire families without income, according to Australian media.

New South Wales is suffering the worst drought in more than 50 years, with farmers among the hardest hit.