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Significant rain for desperate South Australian farmers, but many missing out

Nadia Isa, Luke Radford and Lucas Forbes, Wednesday June 12, 2019 - 12:05 EST
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Everyone's excited in Murbko, after the small town received more than 21mm of rain. - ABC

Heavy rain has fallen over parts of South Australia, providing desperately-needed relief for some of the state's farmers — but unfortunately some areas have missed out.

For pastoralist David Michael, the 30 millimetres that fell in the Port Augusta area represent a reprieve from one of the toughest years he has ever had.

Mr Michael said he did not sleep last night — instead he was lying awake listening to the rain.

"It started about quarter past 12 and it's still going," Mr Michael said.

"We've been here over 35 years and this would definitely be our worst year ever since we've been here.

"Our dams have all been dry for 12 months or more.

"This rain is beautiful, I've just had a look on the rainfall charts and this is our best single rain since April 2017."

An hour's drive south, Philip Johns manages one thousand Dorper sheep and 9,000 acres of crop on his property east of Port Pirie.

"It'd be the biggest rain we've had for some considerable time, and just as you drive along you can see things look better already," Mr Johns said.

"We've had between 40 and 45 millimetres across the entire farm, which is exceptional really."

Not good news for everyone

But it is a different story for broadacre and livestock producer Phil Kernich, who farms east of Yamba in the Riverland.

Mr Kernich, who has been experiencing his driest season since 1982, received 10.5 millimetres of rain.

"[We're] very thankful but it's still a lot less than some — that brings our total up to 33mm for the year," Mr Kernich said.

"[This is the] worst [season] it's been so far since I've been farming.

"This year's certainly been the driest on record that's for sure."

Like many farmers, Mr Kernich has had to purchase hay for his livestock.

"Hay's getting pretty hard to get a hold of and grain prices are high, so you don't want to feed them any more grain than you have to either," Mr Kernich said.

"We paid roughly $450 a tonne [for oats and hay] — probably double the money it should be worth."

In Worlds End, near Burra, sheep have been feeding on dumped onions because hay was becoming too expensive.

Farmers seeking financial assistance more than doubled

Rural Business Support chief executive, Brett Smith, said the amount of clients accessing financial support services in South Australia has more than doubled, going from 200 to 500 requests in the past year.

"That reflects I guess the hardship that's occurring in a number of areas across the state," Mr Smith said.

"Even if it rains it doesn't put money in the bank straight away.

"Those that are hurting now are still going to need help."

Adelaide, meanwhile, has had its wettest day in two years, with 38mm falling on the city in the past 24 hours.

The SES has responded to calls about water coming through roofs, and there have been several reports of minor flooding in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills.


© ABC 2019

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