AP NEWS

House considers relief fund for South Carolina farmers

February 1, 2020 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina House is considering a bill that would create a relief fund for farmers that could be used before federal aid is granted or if help from the U.S. government never comes.

The House Agriculture Committee approved the fund on a 14-2 vote Wednesday.

The bill only establishes the fund. Money to fill it will have to be approved through the budget process, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported.

Supporters said disasters from the great flood in 2015 to Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018 show South Carolina farmers need more help than the slow and uncertain relief from the federal government.

“One little squabble or tweet would have made it not happen,” said Keith Allen, a farmer in Dillon County who lost $450,000 worth of soybeans, peanuts and cotton in three floods since 2016, even after getting some money back from crop insurance.

Allen said he is still waiting for relief from the Hurricane Florence damage in 2018.

Opponents of the bill said there is enough help for farmers and the government doesn’t need to get too involved in helping out private businesses.

Republican House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Hiott of Pickens expects the bill to have strong support in the House.