House overrides Haley’s farm bill veto
by Robert Joseph Baker | May 17, 2016 3:17 pm
Last Updated: May 17, 2016 at 3:29 pm
The South Carolina House of Representatives voted 112-2 on Tuesday to overturn Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of the state’s Farm Aid Bill, which could supply up to $40 million to farmers hit by October’s historic floods.
The vote was an increase from the bill’s initial 95-6 vote in February. The bill now heads to the Senate where it is expected to be approved by more members than needed for a two-thirds majority to override the veto.
Haley said Monday after vetoing the bill that the aid is “an unprecedented bailout for a single industry affected by last year’s flooding.”
Haley had previously vowed to veto the proposed spending for farmers. She said it is unfair to other industries that suffered from the flood. The bill, however, passed both the state Senate and House with veto-proof majorities, meaning lawmakers can override Haley’s veto.
Haley reasoned that farms, like other small businesses, “have access to public and private programs that help them access capital, recover from emergencies and find markets for their goods.”
She said supporters claiming farmers won’t survivor another year without a cash bailout aren’t being honest.
“This is simply not true,” she said. “There are many federal resources available year-round to farmers. Tens of thousands of South Carolinians were affected by this flood and have all started recovery in their own way.”
Sen. Kevin Johnson disagreed.
“While I don’t agree with our governor on this issue, she did what she thought was right by vetoing the farm aid bill,” Johnson said in an emailed statement. “Senators and representatives did what we thought was right by passing the Farm Aid Bill. Now, the ball is back in the General Assembly’s court, and for the sake of our farmers, it is my hope that we will vote to override this veto.”
State legislators overwhelmingly agreed to send the aid to farmers whose crops were damaged in October’s historic rainfall and flooding.
Johnson said while the flood was tragic for many, “it occurred during a time where we are in a financial position to provide aid,” particularly to the state’s No. 1 industry.
“It is my hope that our farmers will receive this vital financial assistance and that everyone will understand that while it is them now, it could be another industry next,” Johnson said. “In either case, I believe that, as a state, we should do what we can to provide aid when aid is needed.”
New Zion farmer Jeremy Cannon was not surprised at Haley’s veto.
“I’m actually relieved Gov. Haley has finally vetoed the South Carolina Farm Aid Bill,” he said. “Now she can get out of the way and allow our legislators, who actually see our need and care to help, override her ineptitude and provide help to an industry desperately in need.”
Johnson said the flood was truly “devastating to the individuals and businesses that were negatively impacted by it.”
“Over the years, our state has done a lot financially to help several industries, especially in the area of economic development and the recruitment and retention of good jobs,” Johnson said. “I think this is a good practice, but I also think it was a good plan to provide aid to our farmers as they were hurt by the drought and then the flood.”
“Apparently, by the size of the vote margin in both houses of the General Assembly, the vast majority of my colleagues concur,” Johnson added.
Cannon said he was pleased with the House’s override.
“I think the vote by the House today was a vote for South Carolina, a vote of overwhelming support of agriculture in our state,” he said. “It was a vote to do the right thing. The thought is hopefully the Senate will be able to vote on it (Wednesday) afternoon with resounding support and make the South Carolina Farm Aid Bill law.”