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NSW drought: Berejiklian open to asking army to help farmers

10 August 2018

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

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.

Less than 10 millimeters of rain fell in the state in July, the fifth-driest on record, putting further pressure on dwindling food supplies for cattle that can no longer graze on parched land. "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.

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.

Prime farming land around Coonabrabran, Broken Hill and between Orange and Dubbo have recorded the driest 18-month period since records began in 1900.

Farmers have also had to ration water for their families and their herds because the dams on their properties are dry or almost empty.

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently said the USDA will act to assist farmers facing trade damage from "unjustified retaliation".

Australia's most populous state was declared entirely in drought on Wednesday and struggling farmers were given new authority to shoot kangaroos that compete with livestock for sparse pasture during the most intense dry spell in more than 50 years.

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. Droughts can last for a few month or even years.

The federal and NSW state governments are providing more than A$1.5 billion (S$1.52 billion) in drought relief packages, created to offset the cost of feed and freight, and increase access to mental health services for farmers feeling the strain.

Others said it was too little, too late.

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

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

NSW drought: Berejiklian open to asking army to help farmers