South Carolina

SC House overrides Gov. Haley’s $40 million farm-aid veto

Horry County farmers up in arms about lack of flood relief

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The S.C. House voted Tuesday to override Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of $40 million in state aid to farmers whose crops were damaged in October’s historic rainfall and flooding.

After podium speeches pledging to help the state’s farmers – many who looked on from the balcony – House members voted 112-2 to override the governor’s veto, promoting applause from the floor.

Some members, who said they are farmers, abstained from voting.

To send the aid to farmers, two-thirds of the S.C. Senate also must agree to overturn Haley’s veto.

Haley blocked the aid package on Monday because, she said in her veto message, the money was an “unprecedented bailout” for a “vocal industry” – aid that small businesses and homeowners who also suffered losses in the flood will not receive.

But lawmakers supporting the farm aid said the state already sends millions to businesses in the form of tax benefits for corporations and to other recipients.

“South Carolina farmers need our help,” said S.C. Rep. Gary Simrill, R-York, speaking before the vote.

“Did you realize that we put $40 million in beach re-nourishment in the budget that passed this House?” he asked other members, noting that beaches are important to tourism in the state.

"It's just been bad since the day I planted to be honest with you," Drew Martin says standing on the edge of a soy bean field off Nichols Highway on Wednesday. He looks out on the drying plants saying it's a total loss. Since the beans were plante

State Rep. Justin Bamberg said farming is key to the Democrat’s Bamberg community – the same community, he noted, that Haley grew up in.

“What the governor did when she vetoed the farm-aid bill is ... she looked at each and every farmer ... looked them in the eyes and told those farmers to go back and walk through their struggling crops and kick rocks.”

“While we are on watch, our farmers will not kick rocks,” Bamberg said.