The S.C. Farm Bureau Federation debuted a website Wednesday seeks support an embattled Aiken County potato farm's efforts to draw water from the Edisto River.
The website, savescfarmers.com, asks people to sign a petition to back farmers against "radical environmentalists." The petition will be sent to state lawmakers.
"Extremists are attacking the Walther Family Farm in Aiken County to push their radical agenda," the website said. "They are spreading misinformation about the farm and its water usage to scare South Carolinians and elected officials into cutting off its water supply. If they succeed in implementing their radical agenda, our state’s ability to grow crops and our economy as a whole will be severely damaged."
The Farm Bureau is trying to get ahead of any legislation that would undo water permit laws and could prevent Walther from drawing water needed for its 3,700-acre farm. Walther received state permission to get the water that stirred concern from conservationists, who fear it could deplete a part of the river.
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Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, said on the senate floor Wednesday that he is working on a bill that would tighten water-drawing rules. Details are being negotiated, he said.
If the Walther farm's water-drawing efforts is stopped, then environmentalists will go after manufacturers next, the Farm Bureau Federation said.
"There's a lot of pieces to the story that have been misrepresented or sensationalized," Farm Bureau spokesman Reggie Hall said. "(Walther) followed what they were supposed to follow."