Australia's most populous state entirely in drought

Harry Taylor 6 plays in a load of Cotton Seed on the family farm in New South Wales

CANBERRA: Animal welfare concerns have been raised after farmers in Australia's most populous state were allowed to shoot kangaroos in order to keep them from starving to death.

National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar says the subsidies will hurt Australian farmers already suffering from crippling drought.

A drier-than-expected June and July has left many farmers with failing crops, a short supply of water and diminishing livestock feed.

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.

New South Wales was officially listed as “100% in drought” on Wednesday, with 23% of the region deemed to be in “intense drought”, leading state and federal governments to offer A$576m (£330m; $430m) in emergency relief funding.

Primary industries minister Niall Blair said farmers were enduring one of the driest winters on record.

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The new rules will increase culling quotas and more shooters to operate under a single license, a government press release states. Droughts can last for a few month or even years.

It includes two lump sum payments worth up to A$12,000 per household, and changes to an assets test to grant support to thousands more farmers. The state governments would also be asked to submit reports on drought condition, so that relevant relief measures can be implemented.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, second right, looks at dry soil with farmers during a visit to Strathmore Farm near Trangie, 300 miles north west of Sydney.

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

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.

4 / 4 Some parts of New South Wales have experienced the lowest rainfall on record over the past year.

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