THE entire state of New South Wales is now officially in drought, following an extremely dry winter.
The latest data released by the NSW Department of Primary Industries on Wednesday shows just how dire the situation has become in Australia’s most populous state.
According to the DPI’s Combined Drought Indicator, 78.1 percent of NSW is now either in ‘drought’ or is ‘drought affected’, while the remaining 21.8 percent is experiencing ‘intense drought’.
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An eye-opening map on the DPI’s website paints a stark picture, with extreme drought conditions now extending all the way to the coast.
Residents living and working in Australia’s biggest city aren’t immune to the worsening crisis either, with a staggering 90.1 per cent of Greater Sydney now in ‘intense drought’.
In a statement, Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said June and July had been much drier than expected, resulting in failing crops, water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain stock.
Mr Blair said only 0-10mm of rain has been recorded over the past month in the Western, North West and Central areas of NSW.
“This is tough, there isn’t a person in the state that isn’t hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities,” Mr Blair said.
“Producers are now faced with some very difficult decisions on whether to graze sown crops or rely on potential rainfall in the next two months in order to increase yield production.
“Some areas of the state did receive some welcome rainfall this month that has provided a little relief for stock and domestic water.
“Unfortunately though, it will not even come close to the recovery needed for most farmers.”
Mr Blair said the extended forecast was dire, with drier than normal conditions expected for at least the next three months across the majority of the state.
The NSW Government recently doubled its drought relief funding to $1 billion to help with transport subsidies, waivers on farming costs, animal welfare measures and mental health support.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced $12,000 grants for farming families.