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Australia's pig farmers welcome heaviest rains in years

Christian Fernsby |
Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said some parts of the state of New South Wales received nearly 100 mm (4 inches) of rain over Sunday.

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The rainfall was particularly welcome in towns such as Bourke, 800 km (500 miles) northwest of Sydney, where people had to start drinking groundwater in April.

Groundwater, also called bore water, is sometimes contaminated by minerals or chemicals as it seeps into aquifers below the earth's surface.

"This much-needed rain will certainly bring some much-needed relief and smiles across the country," said Oliver Gordon, a resident of Bourke.

More rains will be needed, though, to break a drought that has gripped a swathe of Australia's southeast for three years, turning pastures brown and forcing ranchers to buy expensive feed grains to keep their herds alive.

Analysts said the rains may have come too late to save the grain harvest, set to begin within weeks, although the moisture will help cattle and other livestock graziers.

Wheat production is expected to fall well below 20 million tonnes, more than 22 percent below the 10-year average.

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