Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday vetoed a bill which would have set aside $40 million to help farmers affected by last October’s floods.
In a statement sent to House Speaker Jay Lucas, Haley called the bill “an unprecedented bailout for a single industry affected by last year’s flooding” and argued that giving extra help to farmers would be unfair to other business owners.
“Supporters of this bill have said there is no way South Carolina’s farmers could have prepared for this flood and that they will not survive another year without a cash bailout.” Haley went on to say in the statement. “This is simply not true.”
The full statement sent to Lucas by Haley is available here.
South Carolina Farm Bureau President Harry Ott released the following statement following the news of the veto.
“Today, Governor Haley denied disaster relief to South Carolina farmers by vetoing the Palmetto Farm Aid bill. With her veto, the governor has abandoned farmers in their most critical time of need. Her reasons show a lack of compassion for and understanding of the agriculture industry. Her comments only further a false narrative that farmers already have adequate access to flood disaster assistance.
“So I want to set the record straight: This is not a bailout. This is not picking winners and losers. This is about helping our farmers stay in business and avoid personal bankruptcy.
“Farmers do not have access to the disaster relief programs that homeowners and small businesses have through FEMA and the SBA. The available crop insurance and FSA programs were not designed to cover an unprecedented 1,000 year flood event. As a result, farmers have run out of options.
“That is why we need the Farm Aid bill to provide assistance to the hardest-hit farmers. There is significant oversight of the process to ensure every dollar only goes to those who need it.
“The General Assembly’s work on the Farm Aid bill so far has been tremendous. The House and Senate passed H. 4717 with overwhelming, bi-partisan supermajorities. They have listened to farmers and business leaders. They have taken the time to understand that agriculture is unlike any other industry. And they have set politics aside to help our farmers.
“I am hopeful that the General Assembly will do the right thing again and override the governor’s veto.”
The bill passed the House by a vote of 95 to 6, and the Senate by a vote of 33 to 3. A two-thirds majority in each chamber is required to override the veto. Votes to override the veto could come as early as this week.