As drought bites, Australia ramps up aid to farmers

As drought bites, Australia ramps up aid to farmers

"It is good to see that the Australian Government will underwrite local councils to provide access to water, which a number have already commenced in response to NSW Farmers' local advocacy".

"The drought has now been going on for more than six years in parts of Queensland, and it's heartening to see Australians rally around our rural communities during these tough times", he said.

Among the measures included in the new package are as much as A$75 million in handouts distributed across 60 drought-affected councils in the east coast states of NSW and Queensland for spending on local infrastructure, and a doubling in the amount of low-interest loans available to farmers. "And fodder storage, grain storage is absolutely critical", Turnbull said.

"We wish we could be with you today but I'm on tour, but it's very important for us to be a part of this today and do our bit for the farmers".

"We're determined to ensure that we get behind our farmers and help them", Turnbull said in a Facebook post.

Turnbull announced on Sunday that the amount farmers can borrow in low-interest loans would be doubled to two million Australian dollars (1.46 million US dollars) and the amount available for loans would be doubled to 500 million Australian dollars (365 million USA dollars).

While droughts are not uncommon in Australia, the length and severity of the dry conditions have depleted farmers' food stocks.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have donated $100,000 to Nine's Fighting For Our Farmers Drought Relief Appeal.

"The first five years of these loans will remain interest-only".

He said the government was responding to feedback it has received from many farmers in recent weeks.

Farmers in Forbes, some 390km west of Sydney, are among those battling the lack of rain.

"Drought has such a big impact on Australian agriculture and extended dry periods are a recurring feature, so we need governments at all levels and politicians on all sides to come together with industry to work on a sustainable approach to managing this issue now and into the future".