SC farmers staying resilient despite weeks of dealing with the drought

Farmers in six Midlands counties are eligible to receive federal emergency loans

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —Several farmers have been struggling to overcome the drought that has affected 78% of the state’s farmland.

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently gave farmers in Richland, Lexington, Kershaw, Calhoun, Bamberg, and Orangeburg Counties an opportunity to apply for federal emergency loans to salvage some of their losses.

Tony Munoz, a farmer based in Lake City, says the weather over the past few years has not been too kind to his crops, which is why he did not choose to grow some plants this year.

“We’ve grown greens for several years but this year we didn’t grow any because of the bad weather we’ve had, the last two years we lost our whole crop of collards and turnips,” Munoz said.

Even though the drought isn’t affecting him directly, Munoz said he knows several farmers in the Midlands who have been unable to produce a healthy harvest of corn and soybeans due to the crippling conditions.

“It hit us right in the gut of South Carolina production agriculture, but the impact of this drought won’t be as severe as it was fifteen years ago,” said Hugh Weathers, the Commissioner of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA). 

Commissioner Weathers said several Midlands farmers will be able to get help from the government to alleviate some of the damage the drought has caused.

He says these counties were chosen because they had been in severe drought for four straight weeks.

This assistance is something he says will help more than just local farmers.

“When these things happen, the necessity of the government to step in with this safety net — and that’s all this is is a safety net — really evens things out, and the consumer benefits as much as the farmer,” Weathers said.

Even when Mother Nature deals a challenging hand, Munoz says he and other farmers across the state are staying resilient and doing their part to produce for the people.

“We have to keep on going because every year we plant and we don’t know what’s going to come really. I mean we love what we do, so that’s why we keep on doing that,” Munoz said.

If farmers are interested in applying for federal emergency loans, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture encourages them to visit their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

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