Australia's drought -- the cancer eating away at farms


To ensure every drought-stricken family gets help, the government will spend $5 million for Rural Financial Counsellors to go through farmers' accounts and help them apply.

The package will also include extra funding for mental health initiatives, with Australian farmers being at a significantly higher risk of depression and suicide than urban dwellers.

"It's vital that we help farmers and families that are dealing with the stress and pressures drought brings", president Fiona Simson said in a statement.

"It's vital that we help farmers and families that are dealing with the stress and pressures drought brings", Simson said in a statement on August 5.

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She says if farmers can't produce crops this year, they won't get another chance to plant until this time next year, which means they won't be able to get any income from their produce until 2020. The NSW government has also provided more than $1 billion in assistance for farmers.

As drought hits hard in north-western NSW, kangaroos are swamping the township of Gunnedah in search of grass on front lawns and water from sprinklers. I can say from my own experience, it's worse than the millennium drought in '06-'07 and a lot worse than the '82-'83 drought, which was also one of the worst.

"AgForce has been advocating for many years for the asset threshold to be lifted so this announcement today will make a big difference to many drought-affected farming families".

Turnbull also paid tribute to farmers for their resilience.

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AgForce would continue to advocate for further measures to provide relief to drought affected communities including investment in capital works projects, council rates and land rent rebates, and increased education support for children from remote areas.

And look at the kinds of academic research we fund: $468,000 for the Australian National University to "investigate warfare in the ancient Tongan state through a study of earthwork fortifications" and $340,000 for the University of Wollongong to study how "socially engaged art" can "catalyse new dialogue between farmers, scientists, environmentalists and policy makers" on the Great Barrier Reef. "We're going through a really tough time, but when we come out of it, it will be important that farmers are set up and ready to take advantage of all the good opportunities that we know are out there", Mr Mahar said.

Meanwhile, the prime minister has been dragged back into debate over the impact of climate change on drought.

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