Drought declared in entire state of New South Wales


Skinny sheep feed on a parched farm in New South WalesImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Farmers are struggling to afford even feeding their animals

Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), is now entirely in drought, officials have confirmed.

A dry winter has intensified what has been called the worst drought in living memory in parts of eastern Australia.

NSW produces about a quarter of Australia’s agricultural output. It was officially listed as “100% in drought” on Wednesday.

The state and federal governments have provided A$576m (£330m; $430m) in emergency relief funding.

The money is intended to assist farmers who are struggling with failing crops, water shortages and the cost of feeding animals.

“There isn’t a person in the state that isn’t hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities,” said NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned that the country had become a “land of drought”.

Less than 10mm (0.4in) of rain was recorded in parts of NSW in July, officials said. Drier than normal conditions are forecast in the coming months.

Mr Turnbull said farmers recognised that drought was “part of the Australian climate”, but they needed support.

Farmers in NSW were spending up to A$10,000 per truckload of hay to feed their animals, he said.

“What we have to is make sure we [the government] back them in when the times get as tough as they are now,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier this week.

More than half of neighbouring Queensland is also in drought, while parts of Victoria and South Australia are also experiencing dry conditions.



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