PRESS RELEASE: Speaker Lucas: House Overrides Farm Aid Veto

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House Overrides Farm Aid Veto

Stands up for farmers and state’s largest industry

(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement today after the South Carolina House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (112-2) to override Governor Haley’s Farm Aid veto.

“The South Carolina House recognizes the unprecedented loss our farmers experienced last October and understands the economic impact at stake if these concerns are ignored,” House Speaker Lucas stated. “Governor Haley’s factually inaccurate justification for vetoing the Farm Aid bill is inconsistent with South Carolina values.

“When Governor Haley petitioned the federal government for flood relief assistance last fall, she included homeowners and small businesses but intentionally ignored our farmers’ plea for help by leaving them out of the request. Because of the Governor’s refusal to advocate on behalf of our state’s largest industry, the General Assembly was forced to take action.

“The Farm Aid bill establishes a verified grant process that will assist our farmers with the rebuilding process. This program provides our agriculture industry with state disaster assistance that has already been afforded to small businesses and homeowners by the federal government. I am extremely proud of the leadership the House has demonstrated today and hope the Senate will act accordingly to ensure our farmers are able to recover from last October’s historic flood.”

Flood Findings/Figures and Farm Aid Bill Provisions:

  • South Carolina farmers suffered an estimated $376M of crop loss. Only $125M was covered by crop insurance, leaving $250M in uncovered loss.
  • Farmers are ineligible for federal Small Business Administration loans and unemployment benefits.
  • South Carolina has over twenty-five thousand farms across nearly five million acres, which generate billions of dollars annually and represents a vital component to a healthy state economy.
  • The federal crop insurance program established in 2014 is an inadequate method of indemnification as compared to traditional forms of insurance and is not sufficient to aid farmers with substantial losses due to catastrophic events of nature.
  • In order to apply for a Farm Aid grant, a farmer must have a loss of at least 40% of total agricultural commodity. Grants awarded will be equal to 20% of the total loss, with a maximum grant of $100,000. Grants can only be used for agricultural production expenses and losses due to October’s flood and excludes the purchase of new equipment. Strict eligibility and verification requirements are in place to prevent fraud and/or abuse and the program must be re-appropriated annually for future use.