Crippling drought putting Australian farmers under intense strain

Crippling drought putting Australian farmers under intense strain

"There isn't a person in the state that isn't hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities", Niall Blair, minister for primary industries, said in a statement.

Less than 10 millimetres was recorded in the western, northwest and central areas of NSW over the past month and drier-than-normal conditions are forecast for the next three months across the majority of the state. "We see this as probably the worst possible outcome for the kangaroo, but I've got to emphasise we do understand the plight that farmers are in", Borda said.

It is a scenario repeated across New South Wales state, where agriculture contributes more than Aus$15 billion (US$11 billion) to the state's economy annually, employing more than 77,000 people.

The new rules will increase culling quotas and more shooters to operate under a single license, a government press release states.

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

According to AP news agency, the authorities have lifted the number of kangaroos that farmers are allowed to shoot and reduced bureaucratic red tape facing land holders applying for permission to shoot.

With no feed, farmers have been forced to ship in grain or hay from other parts of the country to keep sheep and cattle alive, spending thousands of extra dollars a week just to stay afloat.

The drought has hit farmers particularly hard, with crop, water, and fodder shortages putting their livelihoods at risk. "They didn't act fast enough", Col Barton, whose family has been on their farm east of Gunnedah since 1938, told AFP. Young farmers under 35 are especially vulnerable to stress and negative effects of droughts, researchers at the University of Newcastle said in a recent study.

He says over that time the climate has certainly changed with winter and spring rainfall becoming less reliable. On July 30, the New South Wales government announced a $740.6 million aid package to help farmers through the drought. Japan and Korea are suffering heatwaves and wildfires have blazed across California and Sweden.