Australia's most populous state entirely in drought

Harry Taylor plays with the bones of dead livestock on his family farm

"This is tough, there isn't a person in the state that isn't hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities", Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said in a statement.

Farmers are among the hardest hit by the drought, which is the driest and most widespread in the state since 1965.

Unable to feed their livestock, many have been forced to sell or slaughter stock, sending the cattle industry into a decline that could take years to recover.

He wants the federal and state governments to come up with a plan to help farmers adjust to a warming environment.

A crippling drought is ravaging vast tracts of Australia's pastoral heartlands, decimating herds and putting desperate farmers under intense financial and emotional strain, with little relief in sight.

Farmers have also had to ration water for their families and their herds because the dams on their properties are dry or almost empty.

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It includes two lump sum payments worth up to A$12,000 per household, and changes to an assets test to grant support to thousands more farmers.

According to AP news agency, the authorities have lifted the number of kangaroos that farmers are allowed to shoot and reduced bureaucratic red tape facing land holders applying for permission to shoot.

"Many farmers are taking livestock off their paddocks, only to then see kangaroos move in a take whatever is left", Blair said.

The government would have been better off subsidising professional shooters to reduce kangaroo numbers more humanely, he said.

There was also cash for counselling and mental health services, with drought-related stress and even suicide a mounting concern, compounded by the isolation many feel on their remote properties. Between 1996 and 2015, rainfalls for Australia's southeast fell by about 11 percent since records started being kept in 1900. The state governments would also be asked to submit reports on drought condition, so that relevant relief measures can be implemented.

Southern Australia has experienced near-record levels of dry weather; rainfall has been 57mm below average for the time of year.

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