SYDNEY Feb 26 The Australian government will
provide a A$320 million ($289 million) assistance package to
help farmers ravaged by prolonged drought across the east coast,
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday.
The Australian federal government will make around A$280
million available in drought concession loans to give eligible
farm businesses the resources to recover from the effects of the
Farmers in New South Wales and Queensland will also have
access to extended emergency water infrastructure scheme, to
which the government committed a further A$12 million dollars.
The package also includes about A$10 million for pest
management in drought-affected areas and around A$11 million to
help increase access to social and mental health services in
communities affected by this drought, the government said.
With a scorching drought withering pastures, farmers in
Queensland state - home to half of Australia's 28 million strong
livestock herd have been forced to cull cattle at a record rate,
while the unfavourable weather has also curbed summer crop
($1 = 1.1078 Australian dollars)
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)