Australia Drought Has Impact on Farmers

AUSTRALIA - Grain farmer Eddie Valks hosted his daughter's wedding on his 2,000 acre spread northwest of Sydney, complete with bride and groom sailing off on a small lake. Four years later the lake is gone, dried out by Australia's worst drought on record.
calendar icon 6 December 2006
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"If the wedding guests from the cities saw the place now, they'd be shocked," said the 61-year-old Valks.

Drought and flood have been a familiar feature of Australia's vast cattle and sheep ranches and shimmering grain fields ever since the first Europeans settled here more than 200 years ago. But this "big dry" is the worst and widest, officials say, and poses a massive economic challenge.

It could bring lasting changes to the Earth's driest inhabited continent and sharpen a debate about whether drought-hit farmers should simply leave the Outback for rainier parts of the country.

It is also putting pressure on Prime Minister John Howard from those who link the drought to global warming. These critics condemn his center-right coalition for joining the United States in refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: AP via Baytown Sun
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