Australia Slaughter Down Under

A nation that relies on the land for its vital exports staggers in the face of one of the century's worst agricultural slumps

Across the rolling countryside, the normal peace of rural life is shattered by volleys of gunfire. Under the hot summer sun of the Southern Hemisphere, sheep farmers are carrying out one of the largest animal slaughters in history. Some families drive off in tears after delivering their gentle charges to the killing pens where, next to mass burial pits, firing squads will dispose of 20 million sheep over the next year.

The death sentence was decreed as an emergency measure to rescue a vital export industry by curtailing wool production. During the past 18 months, Australia's prime overseas customers have cut...

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