The votes were decisive: 112-2 in the House, 39-3 in the Senate. South Carolina legislators easily overrode Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of a bill designed to help farmers affected by the floods of October 2015. The override means the bill will become law, setting aside $40 million in aid.
Dozens of farmers and their families and supporters packed the State House lobby Wednesday, asking legislators to vote for the override. “These farmers are up here today to ask their elected officials to stand with them one more time,” said South Carolina Farm Bureau President Harry Ott. The House voted on Wednesday, the Senate Thursday, and in both chambers the answer for the farmers was a resounding yes.
Haley, in a message sent to House Speaker Jay Lucas along with her veto, called the bill “an unprecedented bailout for a single industry affected by last year’s flooding.” Ott said he was offended by the use of the term “bailout” and found it inaccurate.
“A bailout is associated with Wall Street, when people did bad things and did things wrong and then the government bailed them out,” he said. “There is no way a single farmer in the state of South Carolina could have anticipated or wanted a thousand year flood.”
Ott said the impact of the floods went beyond the destroyed 2015 crops, affecting farmers in 2016 because without the income lost, they could not afford to plant new crops, and were in many cases unable to secure loans. The $40 million will assist with that process, allowing farmers to continue to recover.
Jeremy Cannon, head of a family farm, said the flooding hit farmers even harder than Hurricane Hugo, because they were able to salvage some things in the hurricane’s aftermath. “The flood came over a weekend and never dried up,” Cannon said. “For us it never quit raining. We had over 60 inches between Oct. 1 and the end of the year.”
After the House vote on Wednesday, the override decision came down to the Senate. Debate there lasted about an hour, with Sen. Tom Davis of Beaufort the only person to speak in favor of the veto. Davis said “I don’t like corporate welfare. I don’t like crony capitalism.”
Gov. Haley did not immediately comment on the vote to override her veto.
Pictured: Farmers gathered at the State House Wednesday to ask legislators to vote to override (photo by Allen Wallace).
Other local farm events and news:
- Harvest Week at Motor Supply Returns June 7-12, 2016; Sneak Peek of Limited-Edition Menu; Wine Tasting at “Meet the Farmer Happy Hour”
- Midlands Food Alliance Farm Tour Recap