Business

Haley seeks faster aid for flooded SC farmers

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley applauds members of the gallery as she delivers her State of the State address to the joint session of the legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley applauds members of the gallery as she delivers her State of the State address to the joint session of the legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt) AP

Gov. Nikki Haley is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eliminate some bureaucratic requirements such as harvesting worthless crops to speed up aid to Palmetto State farmers.

“No South Carolina farmer that entered this fall with proper crop insurance and a viable business should lose that business solely because of this flood,” Haley said in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack.

Losses in South Carolina’s top industry from the flood have swelled to $587 million, the state’s agriculture officials have said. Farmers already faced a down year because of a late freeze and a summer drought, officials told the state House Ways and Means committee recently.

But Haley said beleaguered farmers are being required to harvest undervalued crops “at a significant expense,” perhaps costing more to harvest the crop than it is worth.

Among other concerns, Haley wrote, are:

▪  Harvest insurance claim deadlines for cotton, soybeans and peanuts are delaying final adjustments. Haley would like to give adjusters more flexibility to move those deadlines earlier.

▪  Post-harvest adjustments between a final crop appraisal and actual sales shifts the loss to farmers if the appraisers overestimated the actual value of the crops.

“I ask that loss adjusters be granted the latitude to classify crops damaged to the point of total loss of market value and those that are not mechanically harvestable as total losses while still in the field,” Haley wrote.

Jeff Wilkinson: 803-771-8495, @wilkinson_jeff

SC farm losses

▪ $376 million: loss of crops in the field and fall crops unable to be planted

▪ $99 million: Indirect losses incurred by distributors, retailers and others

▪ $112 million: Losses to the local economy because of farmers’ inability to spend farm profits

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