2018 Legislative Recap

2018 Legislative Recap

Livestock Permitting Reform: In 2018. The General Assembly passed H. 3929, the "poultry" bill. The bill makes the following changes to current animal agricultural facility laws:

  1. Makes setback distances from property lines and residences set as dictated by DHEC regulations.
    1. This helps our growers in determining where to place new houses and DHEC requested an objective standard for which to determine the permit application.
  2. Defines an “affected person” as a property owner with standing within one mile of the proposed poultry operation.
    1. This ensures that individuals who are truly affected by a proposed permit have a say in the DHEC process.
  3. Requires that the grower places an evergreen buffer between a poultry facility and residences around the farm.
    1. This helps eliminate odors as well as providing bio-security for the poultry facility.
  4. Allows for a waiver of setback distances from a neighbor to be revoked within 3 days of signing, but after that point it stands.
  5. 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 that DHEC final determination cannot be contested.

 

Agricultural Water Use: Last session the House Agriculture subcommittee adjourned debate on a bill that sought to change agricultural surface water user from a registered user to a permitted user. The House Ag subcommittee determined that while ongoing scientific studies are being undertaken as part of the State Water Plan updating process, that current science does not support a need to change the law.

Dams and Reservoirs: The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Environmental Subcommittee voted to carry over H. 3218 after receiving testimony from South Carolina Farm Bureau and others concerned with the bill. South Carolina Farm Bureau members raised the issue of how the cost of repairs should be shared when changes to a dam’s classification occur due to upstream and downstream development around a dam. The subcommittee determined there was still much work to do and information to receive on this issue, and with only nine legislative days left, there was not enough time to properly address the concerns raised by testimony. They decided it would be best to put together a study committee over the summer to develop comprehensive dam safety reform that best protects lives while keeping in consideration the importance of farm ponds in rural South Carolina.

Agribusiness Tax Credit: In 2017, the Senate passed S. 404, sponsored by Campbell, Gregory, Reese, Williams, and Climer, which allowed for a tax credit to be given to an agribusiness operation or an agricultural packaging operation that increases its purchases of SC Certified Grown products. This bill unfortunately did not receive a hearing in the House, but it was added as amendment to another bill, S. 1043 – an abandoned building revitalization tax credit - that received third reading in May prior to the end of Session. The Governor vetoed S. 1043 but the House and Senate overrode the veto. This will allow an agribusiness operation or an agricultural packaging operation claim a tax credit if the operation increases its purchases of agricultural products which have been certified as South Carolina grown by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture by a minimum of fifteen percent in a single calendar year over its base year.

Clemson PSA Request: The General Assembly adopted a budget at the end of June. Clemson PSA received the following in this year’s budget (subject to any vetoes the Governor may have):

  • $2 million in recurring funding for Water Resource Research, Management and Technology
  • $500,000 in recurring funding for the Pinckney 4-H Scholars program and Comprehensive Statewide Extension Programs
  • $3 million in nonrecurring funding for Statewide Research and Education Facility Upgrades
  • $3 million in nonrecurring funding for Facility Renovation for Water Research
  • $6.8 million in nonrecurring funding for renovations to T. Ed Garrison Education and Conference Center

 

Governor Budget Vetoes: The General Assembly overrode the following vetoes in the Budget that impact agriculture:

  1. $210,000 in nonrecurring revenue for the Department of Agriculture Statewide Agribusiness Infrastructure
  2. $70,000 for an attorney at the SC Conservation Bank
  3. $65,000 for a program manager at the SC Conservation Bank
  4. $85,335 for other operating expenses at the SC Conservation Bank