Gov. Nikki Haley plans to veto a $40 million farm flood aid bill headed towards her desk later this week.
The governor told the South Carolina Republican Party convention Saturday that she views the measure as special legislation favoring farmers at the expense of other businesses damaged in last October’s record rainfall.
“I will not support any bailout of any industry over any other industry that suffered from this thousand-year flood,” Haley told the conservative audience. The governor had previously indicated she opposed the special grants for farmers, telling reporters in February and March that such aid is not available to other homeowners or businesses. However, her spokeswoman had not answered repeated questions from South Carolina Radio Network and others as the bill received veto-proof support in both the House and Senate.
Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers was also present for the governor’s announcement. He disputed the characterization of “bailout” and believes Haley received “poor advice” on the assistance farmers can already receive.
“Obviously, we’re going to fight each other on that issue,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. Weathers argued a 2014 law meant farmers can no longer receive direct disaster assistance and the federal crop insurance they did receive was not enough to cover their losses.
The measure headed to the governor would create an eight-member panel largely appointed by Weathers and Department of Revenue Director Rick Reames to handle requests from affected farmers. To be eligible, farmers must document at least a 40 percent commodities loss and be located in counties where the US Agriculture Secretary declared a disaster.
Legislators were confident they have the votes to override Haley and her allies in both the House and Senate. “As certain as I-20 runs East and West, the Governor’s veto will be overridden by the House and Senate and farmers will get the financial help they need!” State Rep. Bill Tayl0r, R-Aiken, wrote in his weekly message to constituents.