WHILE the speed at which funding was distributed to three Eyre Peninsula councils for road repairs has been praised, farmers are feeling "left in the lurch" when it comes to disaster assistance following the January storms.
The District Councils of Kimba, Cleve and Franklin Harbour received $19 million collectively through disaster funding from the state government for road repair, and a joint federal/state program made assistance available to 14 local government areas.
The state government conceded, however, that no financial assistance was available for farming businesses impacted by the storms, leaving producers to shoulder the expensive diesel and machinery costs associated with paddock remediation and trying their luck with insurance for fence repairs.
Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group president Symon Allen said farmers weren't seeking needless handouts, but would appreciate some assistance.
Mr Allen said the scope of disaster funding needed to be re-assessed, with the district's farmers unable to prove the ongoing impact on their businesses due to crops not being in the ground at the time of the event, and it being difficult to prove diesel and fencing bills were outside the normal expenditure of farming operations.
"In SA we don't do summer cropping and the times we're going to have big floods is in summer and we don't have a crop to show the loss or cost to our business," he said.
"We can start showing fuel bills, timesheets, hire of machinery but it doesn't count toward accessing that funding. The scopes of the grants are designed to suit northern Australia where they do two crops."
RELATED READING: Storm-hit EP farmers juggle jobs ahead of seeding
In response to Stock Journal questions, the state government indicated the guidelines for disaster assistance eligibility did not need re-assessing because they were nationally consistent. They did not comment on the timing of the event.
A state government spokesperson said the Department of Treasury and Finance were "working closely with the Local Government Association and affected councils to assess damage and determine reconstruction cost estimates which can be claimed under established Local Government Disaster Recovery Assistance Arrangements".
"The government continues to work with the Eyre Peninsula Extreme Weather Community Recovery Group and industry groups to monitor impacts and determine recovery support required."
Some of the worst affected farmers in the district would have repair bills amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars when all is said and done, according to District Council of Kimba mayor Dean Johnson.
Mr Johnson said local councils were extremely thankful for $19m in road repair funds, but sourcing assistance for impacted farmers had been difficult and a request for a recovery officer had been denied.
"This was the most significant natural disaster in Kimba's history and it could have proven catastrophic for our council and in turn for our community so we're thankful for the road assistance they've rolled out," he said.
"We will continue to advocate for more assistance for farmers, but a lot of the criteria levels we need to hit to trigger that assistance haven't been there and that's mainly because there were no crops in the ground.
'It's difficult to get a cost around the lost of production going forward to meet that criteria."
Mr Johnson encouraged farmers to contact PIRSA, Landscape boards and grains organisations to strengthen the funding push.
Mr Johnson said morale was generally good around Kimba two months on from the storm.
"We're a pretty resilient bunch," he said.
"It's been a tough few years for a lot of rural regions across the country.
"Generally it has been drought, but this time we've had too much rain."
Mr Johnson said 26 roads in the district were still closed, with 15 more with hazard signage.
"We've made significant progress in repair work already, but there's still significant damage across the district and some of those roads will be closed for quite some time with massive amounts of water over them," he said.
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.