Drought conditions continuing in Australia
There are no drought-breaking rains on the horizon for Queensland, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
As large parts of Australia continue to be affected by drought, Dr Jeff Sabburg told ABC News that new data shows the Queensland drought is set to continue until the end of 2014. Drier than normal conditions from October to December are forecast for broad areas of Eastern, Central and Northern Coastal areas of Australia.
The forecast comes following the latest quarterly Rabobank rural survey which revealed farmers are feeling less confident as prices for wool, grains, dairy products and beef ease. The Australian reports that a quarter of farmers expect conditions to deteriorate, around 20% expect the performance of their farm business to worsen and 25% expect their farm income to fall.
Bloomberg reports the Australian forecast for cotton production in the world's third largest exporter was cut by 29% as dry conditions curb yields. The harvest is predicted to total 580,000 metric tons in 2014-2015, compared with a total of 890,000 for last year. That would be the smallest harvest in five years.
A total of 38 shires in Queensland have now been declared as drought zones, the most widespread the state has ever experienced according to Queensland Agriculture Minister John McVeigh. Farmers in drought declared shires are eligible for Queensland's Drought Relief Assistance Scheme, including fodder and water assistance scheme.
In Victoria, farmers affected by drought who have been farming for a minimum of five years can now apply for loans through the Farm Finance Scheme which offers farmers up to $650,000 to refinance their debt.
ABC News has spoken to drought-stricken farmers across Australia who spoke of culling their stock and being forced to leave their farms after 25 years.
Erica, a farmer from New South Wales told ABC News: "The last 18 months have been extremely dry. We are feeding about 4,000 sheep and 100 cattle. Have a small area of irrigated sorghum with 150 cattle on it which will be sold when the feed runs out. We have destocked one farm as there is no water."
A farmer from Queensland, Cheryl told ABC News they have left their farm after 25 years. "We have no property now, due to drought. We had to walk away from 25 years of farming, taking only our clothes and furniture. Leaving behind all our beautiful cows, farm machinery and a beautiful grazing and cropping property, to be sold up by the bank for best price they could get, at a fire sale. They are still chasing us for an outstanding balance and will bankrupt us at their own leisure."