April 18, 2017

I am Ronnie Summers, the CEO of the Palmetto AgriBusiness Council.  The Palmetto AgriBusiness Council serves as an advocate for our state’s agriculture and forest industries.  SC AgriBusiness represents an annual economic impact of over $42B and employs over 200,000 of our citizens.  SC Poultry consists of broilers, turkeys and commercial egg operations.  The poultry industry in our state generates an annual economic impact of over $12 B, or more than 25% of the total AgriBusiness economic impact.  There are over 800 commercial poultry farms and more than 3,350 poultry houses in our state.  Integrators associated with these grow-out units are dependent upon these essential poultry farms to produce birds and eggs required to sustain their operations and ultimately grow their businesses.

Despite the sizeable investment required to start a poultry farm,  (a poultry house and associated equipment can cost $250,000 or more), the return on investment and steady cash flow of these units remain appealing to individuals desiring to farm and live a rural lifestyle.  The average age of farmers in the US now exceeds 58 years of age, and poultry farms have remained attractive to young and middle age individuals as a point of entry into agriculture as these individuals can either concentrate on a full or part-time operation.

In recent times, gaining a decision relative to construction of a new poultry farm has been difficult, expensive, and time consuming. Our farmers want to do the right thing when it comes to regulations and being a good neighbor. South Carolina already has some of the highest standards in the southeast for permitting. We ask that you work with us to help make South Carolina a state that is business friendly and fair by making the process associated with new poultry construction more farmer friendly.

The proposed additions and amendments noted in H3929 represent an effort to further specify requirements which should lead to improved consistency regarding future permitting decisions.  PABC supports approval of H3929. Thank you!