South Carolina Department of Agriculture mailed checks Sept. 16 to the state’s farmers still recovering from last October’s devastating floods.
On May 24, the General Assembly approved $40 million in aid to help farms in flood-ravaged communities. Eligible farmers could receive grants covering 20 percent of their verified crop loss up to $100,000 maximum.
SCDA was assisted by the South Carolina Department of Revenue in reviewing the applications for eligibility. SCDOR set up a mobile office in the SCDA Consumer Protection Division Lab at the State Farmers Market. SCDA contacted every applicant when their application was received and again if any additional documentation was required.
Clemson Extension personnel coordinated effective training sessions that thoroughly prepared farmers to submit their applications.
“Approaching the anniversary of the flood, I am pleased to report that less than four months have passed from the time this bill became law until farmers will have money in their hands,” said Commissioner Hugh Weathers. “SCDA along with SCDOR worked diligently to administer this program effectively and efficiently.”
Information gathered from the applications confirmed earlier SCDA estimates of 75 percent crop loss as a result of the flood. Only 37 percent of those losses were covered by crop insurance.
The grants amount ranged from 88 applicants receiving the maximum award of $100,000 to the smallest grant of $164. The average award was $28,364. Overall, 1,244 farmers were approved for a total award amount of $35,512,560.
“The legislation was well crafted and the grants provide a life-line for farmers, not a bail-out,” Weathers said. “It has been a challenging and rewarding experience to complete this program so timely to help our farmers.”