Australia relaxes kangaroo protections as New South Wales battles drought

Drought declared in entire state of New South Wales

Smatterings of rain fell on Monday in parts of eastern Australia devastated by drought, but not enough to make a difference.

NSW produces about a quarter of Australia's agricultural output. Young farmers under 35 are especially vulnerable to stress and negative effects of droughts, researchers at the University of Newcastle said in a recent study. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said that nationally, it was the driest July in Australia since 2002.

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

But the problem is not confined to NSW - more than half of neighbouring Queensland is in drought. But the drought conditions in New South Wales state this year have been the driest and most widespread since 1965.

In this June 4, 2018, photo, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, second right, looks at dry soil with farmers during a visit to Strathmore Farm near Trangie, 485 kilometers (300 miles) north west of Sydney.

The money is meant to assist farmers who are struggling with failing crops, water shortages and the cost of feeding animals.

Stock agent Simon Bourke told the ABC: "We're selling livestock we don't want to sell... down the track there's really not going to be too many cattle or sheep left".

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"This is tough", Blair said.

Though Australia has long suffered from spells of drought, other parts of the world are now experiencing extreme weather which experts say is evidence of the Earth's changing climate.

Farmers are already eligible for annual relief payments of up to A$16,000 each.

Turnbull addressed those concerns on Monday, announcing relief measures for farmers including extra money for mental health support services.

Farmers in Australia's most populous state have been given enhanced authority to shoot kangaroos because of the drought. Eligible households will able to apply for two payments of A$12,000 ($9,000) to help them get through the drought.

No, the so-called millennium drought of 1997-2005 is often cited as the most devastating - it ravaged nearly 50 per cent of Australia's agricultural land.

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