South Carolina's Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers explains that the 113th US Congress convened last week, and the South Carolina General Assembly convenes today, and there's several pieces of legislation in both bodies that directly affect agriculture and are certainly worth keeping an eye on.
The South Carolina General Assembly will be working on the hacking problem of last fall, and the US Congress will hopefully we working on a new farm bill.
“Washington passed a bill that I’m not very favorable about with the tax increases without the reduction in spending, but a part of that was a nine month extension of the farm bill and I think what scared that into passage was the milk provisions that would have reverted back to 60 year old programming and would have been quite costly.
But we did get 9 months of extension and a lot of the programs got their baseline extended, which was a concern when the farm bill expired, technically September 30. Now they are working on the debt limits, so Washington just seems to stay up against a deadline.
We will push forward soon with our delegation about working on some of the details of the farm bill.
South Carolina has its share of challenges with the security breach last fall that will take a precedent. For rural SC we are trying to bring to the attention the need to address the roads that we use to bring farm to market, some of the infrastructure of bridges that are just needed to help SC keep up and to help our rural economy be able to access the ports or saw mills.
We have the voluntary Ag district, a way that the ag communities and non-ag communities might have one forum to sit and talk about how agriculture and non-ag neighbors can get along a little bit better.
We start today on the budget process and making our presentations to the Ways and Means committees, and we talk about agriculture and how the industry is really the bright spots of SC’s economy and what it will take to realize its potential.
We have a lot of new members in both the House and Senate so our task is to have the new members more familiar with the benefits of SC agriculture.”