Now that Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of the farm aid flood relief bill has been overridden by both chambers of the South Carolina legislature, work begins on mapping out a plan for its implementation.
South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) spokeswoman Stephanie Sox told South Carolina Radio Network that the SCDA and the state Department of Revenue (SCDR) are in charge of administering the aid package. “Work is already underway, planning is underway to make sure that we are able to efficiently and effectively administer this program.”
In the next 2-3 weeks, an advisory board whose members are largely appointed by the heads of both agencies will meet to determine the criteria for eligibility and to also establish the application process. Once these pieces are in place, educational sessions will be held to further explain the application and requirements. “Soon after the advisory committee meets the application will be made available for farmers so they can start applying for relief funds,” said Sox.
To qualify, farmers must have a United Stated Department of Agriculture-Farm Service Agency issued farm number and be able to demonstrate at least a 40% crop loss as a result of the flood. Documentation of crops and acres planted as well as loss will be required. Applicants must also sign an affidavit verifying their information to be true.
Farmers who can document the required level of losses will be eligible for grants worth up to 20 percent of their loss or $100,000, whichever is less. Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers has said he expects the board to lower those limits if enough people apply for aid to exceed the $40 million package.
Look for more information in the next few weeks from your local USDA office, Clemson Extension office, county Farm Bureau, Market Bulletin and on the SCDA website agriculture.sc.gov.