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Sen. Scott hears from businesses, farmers hurt by flood

By Jim Hilley
jim@theitem.com
Posted 12/5/15

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott held a Senate subcommittee on small business and entrepreneurship hearing Friday in Columbia City Hall. At the hearing, Jeremy Cannon, a Turbeville farmer, told Scott and others in attendance that after a summer of drought, he …

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Sen. Scott hears from businesses, farmers hurt by flood

Posted

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott held a Senate subcommittee on small business and entrepreneurship hearing Friday in Columbia City Hall. At the hearing, Jeremy Cannon, a Turbeville farmer, told Scott and others in attendance that after a summer of drought, he still had hopes of "finishing in the black" at his family's 1,700-acre farm.

"Twenty inches of rain washed all remaining hope away," Cannon said.

Cannon said he is not sure people realize how it has affected the farm community.

"Without crops there is nothing to sell," he said.

He said the most crop insurance will cover is 80 percent of a farmer's crop losses, with the average farmer getting 70 to 75 percent.

He said that with current low commodity prices, it is only about half of what farmers need.

Cannon, who has acted as the unofficial spokesman for the South Carolina farm community, said farming was his only livelihood.

"This is my heritage and my family," he said. "Throw out a lifeline."

Scott listened intently and expressed his concern as he listened to Cannon, S.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ted Pitts and Michael Marsha, owner of Forest Lakes Fabrics in Columbia, testify about their damage from the floods and their experience with government agencies.

"A lot of folks are very anxious about their ability to recover without some assistance," he said.

The senator said Congress had been able to restore $3 billion to the crop insurance fund, but what is unclear is how that will affect payments to South Carolina farmers to cover losses from the floods.

Pitts said damage in the state is nearing the $1.5 billion mark.

"No part of the state economy hasn't been hit," he said.

Pitts said he was especially troubled by how the floods devastated the agriculture industry.

"Agriculture affects all aspects of the economy," he said.

After the hearing, Cannon said the congressional delegation has been working to put money for farmers in the budget.

"I think the money is going to be available for the farmers; now we have to see if the governor is going to request the money or not," Cannon said. "The ball is in Gov. Nikki Haley's court. If the governor doesn't request it, we are never going to get it."

The South Carolina Senate subcommittee on the flooding will meet at 10 a.m. Monday in Room 105 of the Gressette Building, 1101 Pendleton St., on the Statehouse grounds in Columbia.

State Sen. Thomas McElveen, who is on the subcommittee, said he was unsure if any state money should come from the state budget or a bond bill.

"All I know is the money has to come from somewhere to get people some relief," he said.

Agriculture Secretary Hugh Weathers is among those expected to testify at Monday's hearing.