Gov. Nikki Haley has made good on her veto promise for a $40 million farm flood aid bill, rejecting it Monday as an “unprecedented bailout” that singles out a well-connected industry over others damaged in last October’s record rainfall.
Act 182 would have created a new Farm Aid Board to award up to $100,000 grants (or 20 percent of documented loss, whichever is lower) for farmers whose crop insurance did not come close to covering their actual losses. Haley argued farmers already receive assistance not available to other businesses, such as partial taxpayer coverage of their insurance premiums and price supports should their crops not reach market price.
“By any measure, the current financial support we give to farmers is extraordinary, but a vocal industry has asked for more taxpayer dollars to bail them out,” Haley wrote in her veto statement.
Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers strongly disagreed, saying the money is emergency help for farmers who sorely need it. “If a farmer tells us he or she lost $100,000 uncovered by crop insurance, then they get $20,000,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “That’s not a bailout. That’s a helping hand.”
Legislators could override the governor’s veto with two-thirds votes in both the House and Senate. The bill passed by majorities that would easily clear that requirement if no lawmaker switches later this week.