Whole state gripped by 'one of worst droughts'

Harry Taylor plays with the bones of dead livestock on his family farm

Australia's most populous state, has declared that it is 100 per cent in drought, with a quarter considered to be in "intense drought".

THE entire state is now gripped in one of the worst droughts on record in which livestock have starved to death en masse and forced farmers off the land.

Farmers are having to decide whether to continue the expensive and laborious task of hand-feeding cattle and sheep or sell their livestock.

Less than 10mm of rain 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.

The sight of wide expanses of dry earth greets farmers every day around the state.

New South Wales was officially listed as “100% in drought” on Wednesday, with 23% of the region deemed to be in “intense drought”, leading state and federal governments to offer A$576m (£330m; $430m) in emergency relief funding.

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

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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.

Conditions are similarly dire in Queensland to the north, where the state government says almost 60 percent of land is suffering drought conditions.

The reason was the largest in the last half-century drought. "We recognise that. It's a very volatile and often capricious climate and Australian farmers are resilient, they plan for drought, they are good managers but it can become really overwhelming", said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

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.

James (left) and Harrison O'Brien feed grain to hungry calves at the family's drought-ravaged farm in Five Ways in the middle of NSW.

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