Over sixty South Carolina Farm Bureau members met virtually Monday, February 8 with State Representatives Mike Burns (Dist. 17), Sylleste Davis (Dist. 100), Doug Gilliam (Dist. 42), Patrick Haddon (Dist. 19), Davey Hiott (Dist. 4), Bill Hixon (Dist. 83) Randy Ligon (Dist. 43), Josiah Magnuson (Dist. 38), RJ May (Dist. 88) and Steve Moss (Dist. 30) to discuss the looming feral hog issue and the need for passage of House Bill 3539.
During the virtual meeting farmers shared their experiences dealing with feral hogs giving accounts of destroyed crops, livestock infected by diseases and little hope of eradicating the wild hogs. Wild hogs are responsible for $115 million in damage statewide each year and have been a growing problem for farmers.
House Bill 3539, the Feral Hog Transport Bill, was introduced by Representative Davis to give law enforcement the tools they need to identify and prosecute individuals illegally transporting feral hogs. While it is currently illegal in South Carolina to transport feral hogs, there is no way of proving hogs to be wild. This legislation would be require individuals to obtain proper identification of the animals to prove their origin.
Though the Bill has been met with resistance from special interest groups citing that small farmers would be unfairly targeted, South Carolina Farm Bureau is committed to working with its membership to ensure that no unnecessary burdens are placed on farmers.
“Small hog farmers are our members just like large hog farmers and we want to protect them, too,” said SCFB President Harry Ott. “We don’t want this law to be a burden for anyone, we simply want to control the feral hog population. We have talked about this problem for 5 years and probably the only thing that has happened is that the wild hog population has doubled in that time.”
The feral hog issue encompasses multiple state agencies and all are committed to finding a workable solution to help lessen the impact to farmers and landowners around the state. South Carolina Department of Agriculture, Clemson University, SC Department of Natural Resources and the United States Department of Agriculture also participated in the meeting.
House Bill 3539, originally scheduled for debate on February 9, has been removed from the subcommittee’s calendar until further notice.