Army May Be Called In To Help Drought-Stricken Farmers

Ambrose Doolan works with his wife Lisa on their property outside Coonabrabran

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. "They are shooting them because they just can't afford to feed them anymore", Tash Johnston, co-founder of charity Drought Angels, told AFP.

The drought has hit farmers particularly hard, with crop, water, and fodder shortages putting their livelihoods at risk.

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

An old dead tree lies like a skeleton on the scorched earth in a property located to the west of Tamworth, a rural (and country music) center in the state of New South Wales, Australia.

Authorities on Wednesday officially declared the entire state in drought.

The current drought on the continent extends beyond North South Wales, with over half of the neighboring state of Queensland also in drought, the BBC reported. "We've put cattle on the highway (near the farm) for the first time in my life (so) they get a bit of rough grass".

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.

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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.

Australia's most populous state is now "100 percent" in drought following the most intense dry spell in more than 50 years.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, said: "We will stand with Australia's farming families every step of the way as they cope with this devastating drought: listening, caring, responding and delivering".

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

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.

4 / 4 Some parts of New South Wales have experienced the lowest rainfall on record over the past year.

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