Australian state now “100 per cent in drought”
The Australian state of New South Wales has been declared entirely in drought.
The Federal Government has announced immediate measures to provide thousands of farms with up to A$576m ($430m; £330m) in relief funding.
23 percent of the state is also experiencing “severe drought”, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The emergency conditions have been caused by a period of unusually dry weather with less than 10mm recorded in some parts of the state.
Southern Australia has experienced near-record levels of dry weather; rainfall has been 57mm below average for the time of year.
The Government has responded with a compensation package to help rural communities, including two lump sum payments worth up to A$12,000 for eligible households.
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 can't make it rain. But we can ensure that farming families and their communities get all the support they need to get through the drought, recover and get back on their feet.”
An immediate package of $190 million will be used to make it easier to receive loan support, mental health provision, and lower the threshold to access funding.
“This increase will give farming families what they sorely lack during drought—cash income. This additional income will help put food on the table and cover basic expenses such as bills and school fees and will flow through to businesses in country towns doing it tough,” they added.