Powerful photo shows Aussie crisis

ONE incredible image has captured the desperation of drought-stricken Aussie farmers struggling to make ends meet.

Taken by his daughter Rhonda, the powerful image shows 83-year-old farmer Alf King praying for rain in his decimated cattle farm - just outside of Bingara, near the NSW-Queensland border.

She captured the moment while the pair were feeding their bulls on Sunday morning.

After posting the image on social media, the pair have been sent kind messages from their friends - who said they hoped rain was on the way.

"Heartbreaking picture so hard to take after a lifetime of hard work," wrote one of the commenters.

The powerful image has triggered kind comments from wellwishers. Picture: Facebook
The powerful image has triggered kind comments from wellwishers. Picture: Facebook

"Bless his soul," wrote another. "Hope it rains soon."

Ms King explained that this level drought had never been seen in the area before.

"Four generations have toiled hard on this land," she said. "Never seen before, first time without water."

They both live on a fourth-generation, 2000-acre cattle farm and Ms King, a farmer and army veteran, said her old man still helps with farming.

"There's just myself and my dad," she told Yahoo7. "He helps me out and he's almost blind.

"If you look at the photo you'll see a patch over his eye, so he's only got a little bit of sight in one eye."

It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison intervened to boost the Government's food relief budget to ensure a charity that feeds 710,000 people a month retains its funding.

Foodbank was facing the prospect of cutting services for the needy after it lost $250,000 a year when the Government redistributed the relief budget to spread funds between three providers rather than two.

"I have listened and decided to increase the Food Relief budget by $1.5 million over the next 4.5 years," Mr Morrison announced on Twitter on Tuesday. "This maintains Foodbank's funding at $750k/yr, with Second Bite and OzHarvest funded as announced last week." The total food relief budget will now rise to $6 million.

Alf and Rhonda King say the level of drought is unprecedented in the area. Picture: Supplied to Yahoo7
Alf and Rhonda King say the level of drought is unprecedented in the area. Picture: Supplied to Yahoo7

OzHarvest, which became the third charity to receive government support, says the redistributed funds will allow it to provide 5.6 million meals next year. Mr Morrison has also asked Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher to place more focus on delivering food relief in drought-affected areas.

"Important that food relief in drought areas is delivered in a way that does not undercut local businesses. Minister will work with providers to get the right plan in place," he said.

However, Labor leader Bill Shorten said the initial decision to spread the funding between three charities was "mean and foolish".

"The Government knew it made a mistake. We've won that battle," he said, praising the efforts of people on social media as well as Foodbank and the National Farmers' Federation.

- with AAP


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