'Worst drought in living memory': Australia's big dry

Heidi Taylor 7 kicks up dust on the family farm outside Coonabarabran in New South Wales

The NSW Government has also doubled its funding commitments to struggling farmers with a total of A$1 billion pledged towards the growing crisis.

4 On Wednesday, authorities in New South Wales announced that the most populous state in the country, which contributes to about a quarter of Australia's agriculture output, is now entirely in drought.

With dry conditions forecast to continue for the next three months, farmers had to decide whether to continue the expensive and laborious task of hand-feeding cattle and sheep or sell their livestock. "They are shooting them because they just can't afford to feed them any more", said Ms Tash Johnston, co-founder of charity Drought Angels.

Farmers have also had to ration water for their families and their herds because the dams on their properties are dry or almost empty.

What is drought and when is it declared?

The current drought on the continent extends beyond North South Wales, with over half of the neighboring state of Queensland also in drought, the BBC reported.

"The land is too dry ..." But it's not enough for many farmers.

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"We can't make it rain". Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said earlier this week conditions were so bad that the country had to accept it was a "land of drought and flooding rains".

"They understand drought is part of the Australian climate and they manage for it, but this drought is longer and more widespread than any drought we've seen in over 50 years so that's why we've got to provide additional support".

The federal and NSW state governments are providing more than A$1.5 billion (S$1.52 billion) in drought relief packages, created to offset the cost of feed and freight, and increase access to mental health services for farmers feeling the strain.

"I think the only problem is it was probably a little bit late coming for some people".

Others have had to bulldoze orchards or lose their farms, leaving entire families without income, according to Australian media.

Southern Australia has experienced near-record levels of dry weather; rainfall has been 57mm below average for the time of year.

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