By a vote of 106 to three, the House just voted to override Governor Nikki Haley's veto of funding for Clemson University's Public Services Authority, a program that provides research, educational programs and other services to farmers across South Carolina.
Several members rose to speak against the veto.
Rep. B.R. Skelton told the body, "This veto virtually eliminates the public services authority at Clemson. I know that Governor Sanford tried to do it piecemeal, but this tries to do it at one fell swoop. All of you are aware of the impact that it has across the state. This veto would eliminate 246 positions: 246. South Carolina would be the only state in the nation that didn't fund agricultural research at its land grant institutions."
He urged members to override Haley's veto "so that the farmers... can have the kind of research they need and have access to county agents and other services offered to them."
Rap. Mack Toole reminded lawmakers that "the agricultural business is the number one economic engine in the state of South Carolina. It has not been tapped. The opportunity is absolutely great. We have a lot more potential. We have skilled and unskilled people waiting to get into the agriculture business."
"As a rural legislator, representing a rural area," Rep. Joe Neal said, "one of the things I've found Clemson to be adept at, is adapting cutting-edge research for use by rural farmers. We are about, through this veto, to cut our noses off to spite our face. If South Carolina is ever going to be competitive in the area of renewable energy, it's going to come out of our agricultural sector."