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Deadly drought hammers farmers in Australia

Jason Wright struggles with his emotions in front of his son. The farmer is among many Australian producers facing devastation as a year-long drought continues.  |  Amber Wright photo

An old proverb says a picture is worth a thousand words.

That apparently holds true for an image of Australian cattle farmer Jason Wright as he battles a headful of emotions in front of his young son while feeding their 1,000 strong beef herd in the midst of a years-long drought.

He is suffering from being physically, mentally and emotionally drained, but he knows he must carry on.

Wright operates the Burrabogie Livestock and Contracting farm near the town of Hay in the state of New South Wales.

His situation is not unique. Many producers across Australia are being forced to haul any feed they can find to keep their cattle alive during the crippling drought, now in its third year.

For some, the harsh climate is too much and they have had to shoot dying cattle to put them out of their misery.

Other farmers have contemplated shooting more than just the livestock as mental health among Australia’s farmers suffers badly with no end in sight for the drought.

Cattle are being sold off to save feed costs. Farms are being sold.

The photo was taken by Amber Wright, Jason’s partner. It was just an ordinary morning while the family was feeding their cattle, like they do every morning.

As emotions overcame Jason, he dropped to the ground to gather his thoughts.

“This has been a different drought as it has been so widespread, which in turn has put huge pressure on fodder resources and has made feeding stock unviable,” Amber said.

“I’m not really sure what to say about the picture. We were just out on the morning feed run as we do every day. He was just physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.

“It becomes hard, day in and day out. It’s draining us physically, mentally and emotionally as we live to look after our animals. However, sometimes, like that particular morning, it just gets too much even when the cattle are full and healthy. Jason just became totally overwhelmed.

“My partner has been farming for 35 years and (has) never seen it so bad. Even though we are struggling, we aren’t the only ones and I want to help all farming families like ours.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Aussie farmers battle this dry spell.

Amber said while everyone is struggling, her family is one of the lucky ones because they at least have each other.

“If my situation and picture can bring awareness and generate much-needed funds, I can then support many other farming families in need especially coming up to Christmas,” she said.

“There are so many farmers taking their own lives daily. There are so many challenges that we face each day that many people could never comprehend but we are the lucky ones as we still have each other.”

The GoFundMe page is here.

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