Sometimes being part of an historic moment is a good thing, and sometimes it’s not. What is being called historic flooding in South Carolina has turned deadly and is delivering a terrible final blow to many South Carolina farmers who face near total crop losses.
South Carolina famers’ yields were already in trouble due to prolonged drought this summer. And now severe flooding takes hope away for any harvest at all.
The first pictures and the horrible realization of the extent of the flooding are coming to light now. Farm Press is pulling these images and information together as best we can with the help of many in the area, particularly Clemson Extension, which is now doing what Extension does best: helping others.
Farming is a small, tight-knit industry, and farmers (no matter where they live) care about other farmers facing struggles.
If you have pictures showing the unfortunate aftermath of this terrible event, or pictures or information about those farmers already courageously rebuilding, please let us know. Their stories need to be told, and their bravery needs to be acknowledged.
Walter Dantzler, Sunbelt Expo’s South Carolina Farmer of the Year in 2014, farms about 4,000 acres in Orangeburg County. He told Greenville Online, "This has been a year for the ages. We've never seen anything like this."
South Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers, after flying over hardest-hit areas, says conservative estimates put South Carolina crop losses at more than $300 million.
This will be hard to get over for many farmers in the Carolina region, especially if they didn’t have, or didn’t carry enough crop insurance. A formal request was sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to declare a natural disaster in the region. Emergency disaster low-interest loans will be offered to farmers. But farmers already borrow money just to farm in the best of times. Piling on more debt, even if it’s cheaper debt, isn’t like throwing a drowning man a life preserver; it’s more like throwing him a Styrofoam cooler filled with water.
Farming is tough even when weather cooperates. But no matter how many tools or tricks he has, man can’t fight back against Mother Nature’s ruthless side.
If farming is tough, it goes to reason that farmers are tough, too. All farmers know how to fight back against adversity and challenges.
The flooding took way too many lives, property, good intentions and precious belongings, but it didn’t take the foundation of the agricultural heritage the region is known for. The Carolina farmers I’ve met over the years are the scrappiest and most-innovative of the breed. If anyone can get over this, rebuild and rock on, it’s them.