‘Farmers are the eternal optimists’: South Carolina farmers hit the fields after hurricanes

‘Farmers are the eternal optimists’: South Carolina farmers hit the fields after hurricanes

MARION COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - DuPree Atkinson is a fifth-generation farmer in Mullins, South Carolina.

His family farm has been around for a century. “I’ve been farming for 40 years. This past year was the worst we’ve ever had,” he said.

Atkinson said flooding from Florence and Michael absolutely devastated his farm and others in Marion County in 2018. “It’s hard to recover from something like that. Normally, we get 50 inches of rain a year. This past year we had 77.”

Atkinson lost almost all of his soybeans and a third of his peanuts. The ones that remained weren’t high grade. “The thing about these hurricanes is they came through when the crops were ready. They were in the fields ready to harvest.”

Hugh Weathers is the Commissioner for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. He said these past few years have shown how resilient South Carolina farmers are. “Hurricanes Florence and Michael all total, they washed away, flooded, blew away over $200 million in crops.”

Weathers said that the total economic impact on South Carolina’s economy is about $1 billion.

Disaster relief legislation stalled at the federal level. South Carolina lawmakers took matters into their own hands. They have set aside $25 million to aid South Carolina farmers. Atkinson said he’s very grateful for that. He had to use almost all of his savings to get things up and running again this year. Atkinson said he knows a few farmers who had to give up farming because their losses were too much to overcome.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said federal help could come very soon. “South Carolina farmers have been devastated by these floods. We hope to get something done next week. Just be patient.”

Atkinson said he isn’t going anywhere. He hopes his family farm is around for another century. “Farmers are the eternal optimist. They know the good Lord is with them and they know He is going to bless us. We just have to keep on going or at least try to.”

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