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Haley seeks expedited crop insurance payments for flood-impacted farmers

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Staff Report
colanews@scbiznews.com
Published Nov. 23, 2015

Gov. Nikki Haley has asked the U.S. Agriculture Department to expedite crop insurance payments to farmers reeling from last month’s flooding, an industry which has already seen a financial loss of nearly $600 million.

Haley wrote in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack that, though the state is receiving support from a Secretarial Disaster Designation and Risk Management Agency funding, farmers aren’t seeing a fast enough turnaround time in order to recover losses. She said soybean, peanut and cotton crops specifically have suffered the most severe losses.

“Unfortunately, we are continuing to receive information from farmers that the process to file and receive payment for claims is slow and cumbersome,” she wrote. “In many cases, they are even required to harvest valueless crops at a significant expense. Accordingly, I am requesting your assistance to expedite this process and bring certainty to hundreds of small businesses across South Carolina.”

Last week, State Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Clint Leach told a House Way and Means committee panel that agriculture-related losses from the flood are now estimated at $587 million, according to the Insurance Journal.

These farmers have already faced a difficult year because of a late freeze and summer drought, according to the report.

“They are to the point of desperation,” Leach said.

Mandatory harvest dates for the three hardest hit crops are delaying the work of crop insurance adjusters, Haley said. She said activating Emergency Loss Adjustment procedures could “reduce the bureaucracy of this process and allow farmers to receive funds much faster than currently scheduled.”

“No South Carolina farmer that entered this fall with proper crop insurance and a viable business should lose that business solely because of this flood,” she said. “Any effort to improve the speed and efficiency of the programs and services available to all farmers will greatly improve South Carolina’s recovery effort and increase the likelihood that each affected small business will be operating this time next year.”

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