Drought afflicts entire New South Wales in Australia

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New South Wales officials released figures on Wednesday showing that every part of the state is affected, with nearly one-quarter classified as being in "intense drought".

With no feed, farmers have been forced to ship in grain or hay from other parts of the country to keep sheep and cattle alive, spending thousands of extra dollars a week just to stay afloat.

There have been reports of farmers shooting cattle and hand-feeding animals because the ground is too dry for grass to grow.

According to Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, the latest drought update confirms what many farmers across the state have seen, with only 0-10mm of rain recorded over the past month in the Western, North West and Central areas of NSW. Farm reservoirs have dried up and crops are failing.

"They are shooting their stock because they don't want them to suffer".

However, the state government has refused to officially declare the drought a natural disaster akin to a flood or bushfire and ignored an offer of military help.

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Conditions are similarly dire in Queensland to the north, where the state government says almost 60 percent of land is suffering drought conditions.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, said: "We will stand with Australia's farming families every step of the way as they cope with this devastating drought: listening, caring, responding and delivering".

With farmers facing ruin, the national government stepped in last weekend, pledging a A$190 million package of immediate relief measures. "Despite this large natural variability, underlying longer-term trends are evident in some regions, and these are likely to be climate change related". That event coincided with two El Ninos, which are often associated with droughts in Australia.

Much of Australia's southeast is struggling but the state government said 100pc of New South Wales' more than 800,000 square kilometres was in drought.

This aerial photo shows cattle on a dry paddock in the drought-hit area of Quirindi in New South Wales.

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