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Australia 'Third world conditions' in bush as farmers struggle

16:31  02 august  2018
16:31  02 august  2018 Source:   9news.com.au

Drought-hit farmers urged to apply for government assistance payment

  Drought-hit farmers urged to apply for government assistance payment Drought has ravaged large swathes of Queensland and New South Wales for years, but about half the farmers eligible for an assistance payment have not applied for it, with many citing bureaucratic red tape.

Australia could start importing grain from overseas within the year as drought-stricken farmers battle to hang on to their livelihood.

Ships usually reserved for exporting grain are now bringing wheat and barley in from Western Australiato the Port of Brisbanein a bid to save local farmers.

Five ships are scheduled to dock at the port, each carrying up to 30,000 tonnes of grain to then be sent by the truck load to Queensland’s Darling Downs – a famed wheat-growing region now gripped by drought.

NSW Government announces extra $500m in drought assistance for struggling farmers

  NSW Government announces extra $500m in drought assistance for struggling farmers The New South Wales Government has announced an additional $500 million in emergency funding to help drought-affected farmers.The Emergency Relief Package includes $190 million for the introduction of transport subsidies of up to $20,000 to help cover the cost of transporting fodder and water.

a large ship in a body of water: Australia could be forced to import grain from overseas if the drought continues to hit farmers. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Australia could be forced to import grain from overseas if the drought continues to hit farmers.

Graincorp's Brisbane terminal manager Josh Connell told A Current Affair they have had to take on extra space at the port to store the grain as there is too much for their giant silos.

“The preference for everyone would be to have the rain and be able to get the grain domestically, locally, and support their network but it’s just not there, so there’s very few other options,” he said. 

Every day, 80 trucks arrive to transport the grain out west.

a large ship in the background: Grain is already being shipped to Queensland from Western Australia. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Grain is already being shipped to Queensland from Western Australia.

“It’s getting busier and busier every week. There’s just no grain out there. Further south you go, it’s getting pretty grim,” truck driver Tonie Nothdurft said.

Lifeline for farmers struggling with 'unprecedented' drought

  Lifeline for farmers struggling with 'unprecedented' drought The cost of transporting crucial feed for starving livestock will be subsidised by the NSW Government as the state’s farmers continue to struggle with an “unprecedented” drought. An additional $500 million in government financial assistance has been pledged for farmers.Transport costs will be subsidised significantly with a cash handout of up $20,000 a farming business. It will help to pay to move fodder, livestock and water. The payment will be backdated to January 1.Because there has been almost no rain, most of the state’s feed is being trucked in from South Australia or Victoria at a substantial cost to farmers.

If the drought doesn’t break by next year grain could be sourced from overseas.

Ross Henry from the Queensland Farmers’ Federation said there would eventually be an impact at the supermarket checkout but for now farmers just wear the added cost and try to survive.

a truck driving down a dirt road: Farmers say the drought has become © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Farmers say the drought has become

“The best thing to do is if you have a chance and you can do it is buy Australian. That obviously flows back into Australian pockets which is a benefit for farmers that are doing it tough,” he said.

In New South Wales farmers say the drought has reached "catastrophic" conditions.

“I've never seen so many people so poor, we've got people out in these areas living in third-world conditions and by that I mean they don't have water in the house, to have a shower or flush the dunny,” said Brian Egan, founder of Aussie Helpers, a charity supporting farmers on the ground.

‘Disaster’ looming as grain, red meat stocks dwindle in drought

  ‘Disaster’ looming as grain, red meat stocks dwindle in drought National Farmers Federation CEO Tony Mahar has warned that Australia will be "bordering on disaster" if the drought does not break in the coming months. Farmers in New South Wales, Queensland, and parts of Victoria are in the grip of a drought that is one of the worst on record."It's really looking bleak," Mr Mahar told A Current Affair. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd National Farmers Federation CEO Tony Mahar. He said without rain, farmers would continue to struggle to feed their livestock, and that the country was "getting to the bottom" of its existing stocks of hay.

People are living in © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd People are living in

Drought is currently taking away the livelihood of 75-year-old Gunnedah farmer, Graham Sunderland.

“We were going alright with the two bores then they both dried up, that just buggered everything, that did,” Mr Sunderland said.

His farm has run out of water and every dam is bone dry. Drinking water is brought in from town.

a man wearing a hat: Graham said his neighbour was sharing his own bore to keep the stock from both properties alive. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Graham said his neighbour was sharing his own bore to keep the stock from both properties alive.

Graham's saving grace was his next-door neighbour, who is now sharing his own bore that provides water to keep stock on both farms alive.

“That’s gold to have a neighbour like that. I was just so lucky to have him there or I would have been gone a long time ago," Mr Sunderland said.

Mr Egan said Aussie Helpers was spending $100,000 a month bringing feed from interstate to keep animals alive.

a body of water: Gunnedah farmer Graham Sutherland is completely without water on his property after the dams and bores dried up. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Gunnedah farmer Graham Sutherland is completely without water on his property after the dams and bores dried up.

He said government support so far had not been enough.

“If we don’t keep the stock alive, these people just disappear," he said.

"You know when farmers disappear, we lose all that generational expertise that goes with it, they never come back again."

No end in sight for NSW's big dry .
Drier than normal conditions are forecast for the rest of 2018 while NSW farmers continue to battle as the entire state is declared impacted by drought. Farmers are struggling as 100 per cent of NSW is impacted by drought but there's no relief in sight with drier than normal conditions forecast for the coming months.The latest Department of Primary Industries data shows almost 22 per cent of NSW is suffering intense drought, 40 per cent is in drought and nearly 38 per cent is drought-affected.

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