Livestock Permitting Reform
The Senate passed H. 3929, the "poultry" bill, with a vote of 41-1, to which the House concurred with Senate amendments by a vote of 103-0. The Governor signed H. 3929 into law on March 12, 2018, making the following changes to current animal agricultural facility laws:
- Makes setback distances from property lines and residences set as dictated by DHEC regulations, helping our growers determine where to place new livestock houses.
- Defines an “affected person” as a property owner within one mile of the proposed poultry operation.
- Requires that the grower places an evergreen buffer between a poultry facility and residences around the farm. This helps eliminate odors and enhance bio-security.
- Allows for a waiver of setback distances from a neighbor to be revoked within 3 days of signing, but after that point, it stands.
- Provides that if a grower chooses to place their poultry operation 800 feet or more from their own property line, which is double what is required by regulation, or 1000 feet from an adjacent residence, then DHEC’s final determination cannot be contested.
Agricultural Water Use
On March 21, 2018, the House Agriculture Subcommittee voted 4-0 to adjourn debate on H. 3890 – a bill that ended the agriculture registration process under the Surface Water Act of 2010 and instead subjected agricultural users of water to the permitting process. Testimony was provided to the Subcommittee about the various ongoing activities of both state and federal agencies working to gather scientific data on current surface water and groundwater resources, as well as the development of the State Water Plan. These efforts will lead to a better and more scientific understanding of how to best manage our water resources.
We continue to participate in meetings with the regulatory bodies – DHEC and DNR – on both surface water and groundwater matters. We will continue to influence water policies in South Carolina to ensure a fair and adequate water supply for agricultural use.
Dams and Reservoirs
On April 18, 2018, the Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Subcommittee held a hearing on H. 3218 – a bill that would have increased the number of dams and reservoirs regulated by DHEC. The Subcommittee voted to carry over H. 3218 after determining there was still much work to do on this issue with not enough time to properly address the concerns raised by the testimony of SCFB and others prior to the end of the session. We will be participating in a study committee over the summer which will develop comprehensive dam safety reform that best protects lives while keeping in consideration the importance of farm ponds in rural South Carolina.
Clemson PSA Request
Both the House and Senate passed their versions of the Budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. In it, Clemson PSA received $1.5 million recurring funds from the Senate for water research, whereas the House gave them $2 million recurring funds for water research. Both Chambers allocated $6 million non-recurring for facility renovations. The ultimate amount will be decided when the two bodies go to Conference Committee on the Budget.