Pee Dee farmers still affected by October floods - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Pee Dee farmers still affected by October floods

CLARENDON COUNTY (WMBF) - Jeremy Cannon and his family have been farming in Turbeville for four generations, but the October flooding was a burden they had not faced before. Cannon’s farm received 20 inches in just 72 hours of the first rains, saying, "I don’t really know when we’re going to be able to get into the fields. It is affecting next year’s crops for sure.”

With 17 inches of rain since the floods, even now the fields are too wet to enter with equipment. The hope for many Pee Dee farmers is in grants. State lawmakers introduced a bill that just this past Thursday that could create a “South Carolina Farm Aid Fund” which would help farmers who lost at least 40 percent of their crop cover 20 percent of their losses. But that bill will have to go through legislation for any assistance to be given.

On Friday, Representative Tom Rice spoke to local farmers in Conway about $80 million in grant money available from the federal government, only if Governor Nikki Haley requests it. But that’s also another waiting game. Field preparation, which should have started this past November, may not be able to happen until late March. Despite damages to their land, the biggest hit for many farmers was to their finances.

Jacob Stokes is close with many of the Pee Dee’s farmers as an agronomy agent with Clemson University. Since October, he’s been working with farmers to get back on their feet. He says even farmers with the best insurance are struggling. He says farmers do not qualify for most small business loans and feel left out from the help that’s been provided to other businesses hit by the disaster. Some farmers do qualify for emergency loans from farm services agencies, but many cannot pay their way back in debt when all their crops are unharvested and underwater.

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