Drought a treadmill that won’t end: farmer

Drought a treadmill that won’t end: farmer

Drought a treadmill that won’t end: farmer

Australian farmers suffering from one of the worst droughts in 100 years will be receiving up to $12,000 payments from the government.

The cash payments help form a drought relief package of 190 million Australian dollars (140.6 million USA dollars) for the dry spell that has cut across large parts of the country's east and south including New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

Dry farmland across eastern Australia is not predicted to get soaking rains through spring or summer.

The opposition Labor party has criticized the aid as long overdue and said the government should also be focusing more on climate change and its consequences to find ways of coping with droughts in the long term.

General president Grant Maudsley said more than half of Queensland was still drought-declared, and the prolonged nature of the drought in the state was taking an enormous financial, emotional and environmental toll on many regional communities. "This is very important to improve that mental health support".

"A lot of farmers, we're using that a week", farmer Anto White from Belltrees in the Upper Hunter tells me. They are indeed the backbone of this country. In fact, it discourages them from making the right decisions to achieve resilience. "When farmers do it well the whole nation benefits, when farmers do it tough, as they are now the whole nation suffers", he said during the press conference.

The total revenue for the commonwealth-funded Australia Council for the Arts is set to exceed $200 million this year; this is the same body that gave a $20,000 grant to an artist to make people yawn in an inner-Sydney gallery, a sum more likely to make you want to vomit. "Some farmers are in absolutely diabolical situations", he said. So they are already resilient.

Farmers have meanwhile expressed concerns the media is too heavily focused on drought "disaster" stories, fearing it could damage the reputation of Australia's livestock industry.

Compare the complex process of accessing such funding with how easily the government throws money at any other number of fashionable causes and you understand the frustration. The NSW government has also provided more than $1 billion in assistance for farmers.

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