Haley tours SC farm suffering from heavy rain

(Stacy Jacobson/WCIV)

HARLEYVILLE, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - Gov. Nikki Haley says the heavy rains this summer are a disaster for agriculture across South Carolina.

Haley visited Pendarvis Farms in Dorchester County on Monday where she looked at fields that are still soggy from recent rains.

She has asked for a Secretarial disaster designation from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which would entitle affected farmer to low interest loans to recover.

"The amount of rain this year has been disastrous for our farmers and the rain is impacting our economy as we speak. It's times like these that we need to come together as a state and show the agribusiness community 'we're going to have your back,'" said Gov. Haley. "South Carolina farmers are the ultimate small business survivors - constantly fighting to bring food to our stores and earn a living. If there was ever a time that South Carolinians need to show support for local farmers, it's now."

State agriculture commissioner Hugh Weathers toured with Haley. Weathers says the problems are not short-term. He says some farms have had a hard time harvesting hay. That could mean beef and dairy cattle could run low on feed next winter.

About two dozen farmers joined Haley during Monday's tour. Officials say it could be three months before they know if the disaster assistance will be approved, though Weathers expects a decision sooner.

According to state officials, excessive rainfall this summer has been widespread across the state in almost every county, damaging crops currently planted and preventing new crops from being planted.

They said 36 counties have damage exceeding 30 percent, which mostly affected wheat, soybeans, cotton, forage crops, and peaches - known as primary disaster counties. The remaining 10 counties had damage below 30 percent but are included in the request as contiguous disaster counties.

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