NSW is now 100% in drought

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The latest seasonal update from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries has placed the entire state in some form of drought following one of the driest winters on record.

The state’s Western, North West and Central regions received between just 0 and 10mm of rain over the past month.

The department’s Combined Drought Indicator, which combines rainfall, soil water, plant growth and drought direction indexes, to classify levels of drought. Just two small statistically insignificant pockets – one near Lismore in northern NSW and another seaside in the Clarence Valley are classified as “recovering” from drought. The rest of the country is either drought-affected (38.7%), in drought (38.82%) or intense drought (23%).

The NSW Department of Primary Industries Combined Drought Indicator chart puts the entire state in some level of drought.

It’s the first time in three decades that the NSW landscape has faced similar conditions. Western parts of the state have had their driest period since records began.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said June and July have been much drier than expected, resulting in failing crops, water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain stock.

“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,” he said.

“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.

“The forecast suggests an increase of drier than normal conditions for the next three months across the majority of NSW.”

The NSW Government has a $1 billion drought relief package which includes transport subsidies, waivers on farming costs, animal welfare measures and mental health support.

Details on the full range of measures are available here.

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