Drought on the Eastern Seaboard of Australia

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This drought, compounded by a short supply of hay on the eastern seaboard of Australia and rising transport costs, is likely to change the farming landscape in Australia for decades to come. Drought has a huge impact on the Australian economy, considering Australia is the second-largest wheat, canola and beef exporter in the world and the largest barley exporter.

The ongoing drought in Australia has been through some very bad times and at more than one-time farmers have faced extinction because of the sever rain loss and there being no green vegetation for the cattle to feed on and no way of buying hay. September 2018 was the driest year on record for Australia since 1900. 

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At this time New South Wales was in 76.6 percent drought, Victoria was declared 100 percent of farmland in drought and there was no available hay on the eastern seaboard. For example, the Geppert Family has 43,000 acres and currently only 1,200 sheep which like many others also affected by the current drought is a lot less than usual.

The farmers from the Central Western Queensland area of Longreach have suffered through a 2 year drought which has had a huge impact on the town and its residents. As the farmers are struggling financially, they are reducing the number of trips they take into town as it costs so much. Therefore they are going without some food items and instead living off what they can produce themselves. 

They have been unable to sell stock to raise funds as the animals are in such a poor state that they would not be able to withstand travel. With an above average monthly rainfall in June, Longreach may be nearing the end of their three-year drought. However, the struggle is far from over for the families of Longreach, many of whom have been forced to completely destock their properties.

One particular NGO called RRT (rapid relief team) has done a lot to support farmers in need. Overnight, RRT acted with a major program valued at $3 million, focused on providing food and assistance to farmers and their families, and providing food for livestock. 131 farming families were provided with food vouchers of $100 per week for 13 weeks. Both IGA and FoodWorks agreed to support Operation Drought Relief with a rebate back to farming families.

In early August 2018, RRT arranged the first convoy of 10 road trains bringing hay from Western Australia to the worst affected rural areas of Western New South Wales. This comprised a total of 830 larges bales which is enough to feed 8,300 cows or 83,000 sheep for a week. The approximate cost of this convoy was $230,000. 

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