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S.C. farmers struggle to bounce back after hardships of pandemic

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 12:04 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As the nation grapples to find balance and return to normal during this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, many business owners are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.

That includes farmers, who the U.S. Department of Agriculture says were hit particularly hard in the past year.

Places like Cottle Farms are trying to push ahead after a year turned upside down by COVID-19.

“Well it’s really been quite trying,” says owner, Joy Cottle. “A lot of added expenses that we weren’t used to doing.”

For farmers, it wasn’t just the pandemic, they’ve had to weather other storms too.

“April was a tremendous strawberry season for us with a lot of production. Then about three weeks ago, those bad storms came through with the heavy rain and the pea sized hail, and that did impact our crops quite a bit,” Cottle said. “So that’s why the consumer will be seeing that we’ve been closing quite a bit lately and opening up every other day or something. That’s because we had to throw away so much fruit that was all damaged.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has dedicated 6.5 billion dollars in COVID-19 relief to help producers, including a Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that helps farmers who faced market disruptions from the pandemic.

Some people say they want to help our farmers in the best way they know how -- by buying local.

“Anything to keep your local people strong and to support each other is important,” said one woman out picking strawberries at Cottle Farms.

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