In September of this year, farmers across the state, who suffered losses during the October 2015 flood and who were approved for the Farm Aid Grant, started receiving checks in the mail. But less than a month later, some of those same farmers were once again assessing damage to their farms, this time from Hurricane Matthew. South Carolina Public Radio’s Thelisha Eaddy reports on how back-to-back natural disasters are impacting local farmers.
South Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers said the physical footprint of the 2015 October flood was much larger than that floods caused by Hurricane Matthew this year. The infographic below shows how the more than $35.5 million dollars in Farm Aid Grant money was allocated to 1244 farmers who suffered losses during the historic flood. The image also shows the flood's physical footprint spreading to 40 of the state's 46 counties. Sixteen of those counties, from the Midlands to the coast, saw the highest total awards of more than half a million dollars and above.
Weathers said its too early to know the extent of damage levied by Hurricane Mathew. " We ask the farmers to be our first source to tell us about their individual crops. With the sunshine and sort of desperate nature that is harvest season, it may be a while before we get that information back," he said. Farmers are able to complete and email the entire online form at https://agriculture.sc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/esf-17-damage-assessment-info-form2016.pdf
After the 2015 rain event and flood, Plant It Forward, a relief fund for South Carolina farmers was created by South Carolina Advocates for Agriculture with support from South Carolina Department of Agriculture, Clemson University, South Carolina Farm Bureau, and Palmetto AgriBusiness Council.
"We raised nearly $600,000 and distributed it last Spring, with the help of a lot of good South Carolina generosity." Weathers said. We don't know if we will try to establish that fund again," he added.