For 75 years, South Carolina Farm Bureau has used grassroots policy development to surface issues affecting farmers. These issues direct policy that is set during Annual Meeting. This year, over 200 members from 41 counties attended Policy Development meetings held in each district. They heard about progress made during the past legislative session and had the chance to share challenges they are facing on their farm.
Here are some highlights from the 2019 Policy Development Meetings:
In the Central district meeting, members discussed the opportunity for South Carolina to create a program offering funding for farmers through grants similar to programs in place in Pennsylvania, Florida and Mississippi. County-level issues identified included increasing the stormwater run-off fee and the institution of a business registration fee.
During the Coastal district meeting, mariculturists, or “farmers of the ocean,” raised the issue of the ongoing efforts by some to seek a ban of floating oyster cages in Charleston. Issues like this highlight the diversity of agriculture in South Carolina and the importance of working together to protect farmers’ freedom to operate.
In the Pee Dee district meeting, members discussed the success Farm Bureau had in stopping a dramatic rate increase by Duke Progress and Duke Carolinas. These efforts also set a precedent for Farm Bureau’s involvement in future cases to continue to protect agricultural interests. Hemp was another popular topic as the industry continues to grow. Members agreed that a unified voice is important to ensure long-term success of the commodity.
During the Piedmont district meeting, Vice President Tim Donald discussed how the creation of “reciprocal setbacks” could help protect farms from urban encroachment. Laurens County members shared their success of partnering with their county Chamber of Commerce to host candidate forums during special elections. Their work highlight the impact Farm Bureau can have during an election cycle and the importance of engaging with local politics.
From hemp to taxes to maintaining access to water, South Carolina Farm Bureau stands ready to fight for farmers at all levels of government. If you have other issues that are affecting you and your farm, contact your county farm bureau so those topics can be considered during the SCFB Annual Meeting this December.