Farmers in the Barkly Region of Queensland and the Northern Territory have been forced recently to shoot cattle stranded in mud and unable to move or be rescued. The action comes in the wake of recent rains that broke Australia’s longest drought in history.

Sid Parker, chairman of the Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association, confirmed last week that many farmers in the area were shooting cattle from helicopters in a bid to stop the suffering of cattle bogged in mud and unreachable by horse or motor vehicle because of swamped roads.

While Australia, the planet’s driest continent, swims in monsoon rains of the last week, Argentina and Brazil, traditionally two of the most abundant in rainfall, have been in drought. Argentina, however, received a break this week but more rain is needed.

In fact, Brazil’s latest government estimates of soybean and corn yields for 2009 have been adjusted down. The corn crop is now estimated at 52.3 million tons, down from the forecast of 54.4 million tons. And soybeans are now estimated to yield 57.8 million tons, down from earlier predictions of 58.8 million tons.

Meanwhile, neighboring Uruguay and Paraguay are registering their hottest summers since 1855.