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Australia commits nearly $365m to help drought-hit farmers

Published on Feb 26, 2014 10:30 AM
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (right) meets with outback graziers Phillip and Di Ridge of their property named "Jandra" near Bourke in western New South Wales, on Feb 16, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - The Australian government will provide a A$320 million (S$365 million) assistance package to help farmers ravaged by years of drought across the east coast, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday.

With pockets of Queensland and New South Wales recording the lowest ever rainfall levels, farmers in the world's third-biggest beef exporter have been forced to slaughter starving cows at record rates, pushing prices to lows, and adding political pressure for federal assistance.

"We can't work miracles, there is no magic wand but we will do what we can to help in difficult times," said Abbott."Plainly for a large number of farmers right now, these are very difficult times."

The Australian federal government will make around A$280 million available in drought concession loans to give eligible farm businesses a chance to survive the drought, which has lasted two years in some parts of Australia.

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