'Big Dry' Killing Aussie Farms

Wheat exports critically low as farmers flee parched land
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2008 8:33 AM CDT
The worst drought in a century is driving Australian farmers off their land.   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – The worst drought in a century has forced a tenth of Australian farmers off the land, reports the BBC. The "Big Dry" has led to parched farmland across the nation over the last seven years, accelerating the exodus from rural areas. The number of farming families in Australia has dropped by a third over the last 20 years.

High interest rates have added to woes for Australia's farmers, with many borrowing heavily to plant their crops, only to face bankruptcy when the water-starved land fails to yield a sufficient harvest. The drought is one of the major reasons why the world's wheat stocks are at their lowest level in decades, with harvests millions of tons below their usual levels.