Farmers struggle to recover from crop loss, infrastructure damage due to Hurricane Matthew

Greenhouse in Loris destroyed by Hurricane Matthew
Greenhouse in Loris destroyed by Hurricane Matthew

LORIS, SC (WBTW) – The South Carolina Department of Agriculture says farmers in South Carolina lost at least $52 million worth of crops in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, but that doesn’t count the amount of farm infrastructure lost in the storm.

It’s been a tough couple of years for farmers in our area, many farms lost 100% of their crops in last year’s flood, where total losses statewide added up to more than $330 million.

While the crop loss wasn’t as great this year, wind damage caused other problems that farmers didn’t see last year.

That was the case at Home Sweet Farm in Loris where a greenhouse saw heavy damage, wind ripped part of the roof off a building, and many fence posts have to be replaced.

The farm also suffered significant crop loss from the flood last year, but co-owner, Jimmy Rabon, said the aftermath from Matthew is much greater because of the expense of repairs.

Rabon’s insurance was on the crops, so none of the infrastructure damage was covered, and there is currently no federal aid for farmers in the state.

Rabon said similar situations have many farmers in the area questioning if they can even remain in business.

“There’s several people, a lot of older people who have farmed their whole life, some not too far from here, who have quit and some that are on the fence about quitting,” said Rabon.

News13 spoke to the commissioner of the state’s agriculture department, Hugh Weathers, about the plight of farmers.

Weathers said farm infrastructure is not covered by FEMA aid, so it’s up to affected states to try to help those who suffered losses.

“We will probably join with other states that were impacted by the storm and look if there’s an avenue to help with some of those infrastructure damages that are not covered by insurance that a person might have on their business,” said Commissioner Weathers.

The commissioner added that some local seed houses were also flooded, so he expects problems will continue for area farmers heading into the winter.