Australian drought hits farms badly

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Parts of eastern Australia are suffering their worst drought in living memory as a lack of rainfall in winter hits farms badly.

A lone tree is the only sign of life near a water trough on a farm outside Walgett in New South Wales.

Farm owner, May McKeown said “I have not seen much rain since 2010.”

About 98% of New South Wales is drought-stricken and two-thirds of neighbouring Queensland.

As a result, farmers have to order in food for their livestock, which raises their costs considerably.

A farmer, Tom Wollaston said “I can’t seem to be able to do anything else apart from just feed and keep things going.

“[The drought] seems to be one step ahead of me all the time.” The government’s aid for drought-hit farmers has now topped A$1bn (£564m; $738m).

Government aid includes funding towards better mental health services for struggling farmers.

Parts of Australia saw the second warmest summer on record between December and February and the country as a whole saw its driest July since 2002.

While touring the worst-hit areas in June, Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said there was a clear link to climate change.

“I don’t know many people in rural New South Wales that I talk to that don’t think the climate is getting drier and rainfall is becoming more volatile,” he said.

About a quarter of Australia’s agricultural output comes from New South Wales, so the drought has hit the industry particularly hard.

Olajumoke Adeleke