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South Carolina agriculture losses from flood double to $600 million

Staff writer |
South Carolina’s estimated agricultural losses from last month’s floods have grown to almost $600 million and farmers statewide are hurting, state officials say.

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State Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers initially estimated losses at $300 million but officials with his agency told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that the total agriculture-related losses are now estimated at $587 million. Agriculture is the state’s biggest industry, SCNow reports.

Farmers already faced a horrible year because of a late freeze and a summer drought, Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Clint Leach told the panel.

Rep. Brian White, an Anderson Republican and chairman of the committee, said he believes the state should provide some financial assistance.

“We help other industries. It’s time we help farmers too. Our industry has been hit very hard. Our farmers are in deep despair. We’re hearing from them constantly.”

He said according to a study done for his agency losses in the field, primarily from soybeans, peanuts and cotton, amount to $329 million, with another $46 million in losses from plantings that could not occur, $114 million in lost wages for 3,500 jobs, and millions more in indirect costs.

Farmers, he said, are not interested in obtaining low-interest loans, the aid being offered by the federal government. That’s because farmers have gone a year without much income, officials said, some already had operating loans and they have no cash flow to pay for additional debt.

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