Vietnam Time

8/19/2018 4:57:04 PM

Australia boosts aid by USD 1.32 billion for drought-hit farmers

Australia's federal government announced on Sunday (Aug 19) a AUD 1.8-billion (USD 1.32-billion) increase in funding for drought-afflicted farmers, with parts of the country's east coast suffering the driest conditions in living memory.

The remaining cattle on farmer May McKeown's drought-affected property, located on the outskirts of the northwestern New South Wales town of Walgett in Australia, eat hay July 20, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged the support, in addition to the AUD 576 million (USD 421 million) previously announced, during a visit to Forbes, a town in New South Wales, where farmers are facing drought conditions.

"I want to say to our farmers, we have your back," Turnbull said. "We are constantly working to ensure that you get every support you can, and of course, let's all pray for rain."

The government said new funding would be made available for infrastructure projects, while tax breaks and low-interest loans of up to AUD 2 million (USD 1.4 million) for farmers were also part of the package.

Money would also be directed to the Bureau of Meteorology to develop more localised weather guides to help farmers plan.

The announcement comes two weeks after the federal government announced its last relief package and the state of New South Wales has also provided more than AUD 1 billion (USD 731,900) in assistance for farmers.

The dry spell has helped fan rare winter bushfires in parts of the country and the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast an unusually dry and warm spring for Australia's east coast./.

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