Weather events impacted agriculture industry

The state's second largest industry is trying to recover from two major weather events in 2007.

Agriculture department officials say the on-going drought and the Easter freeze have cost South Carolina farmers more than $270 million.

Lynn Porter, a local shopper, knows it's not easy to feed a family when you're on a budget.

The Swansea mother says recent weather woes are making things worse.

"Nobody's pay is getting bigger, but prices of groceries to feed a family are getting outrageous," said Porter.

"There are two severe weather events that really had an impact on agriculture, said Hugh Weathers, the state TMs agriculture commissioner.

Weathers says South Carolina TMs on-going drought affected nearly half the farms in South Carolina, in turn affecting consumers.

A spring freeze hit harder and faster.

"One came like a sledgehammer on Easter weekend with the freeze," said Weathers.

Peach farmers lost more than $39 million last year, making Palmetto peaches a little harder to come by.

Agriculture department stats show South Carolina beef also took a hit because the drought is increasing the price for hay to feed livestock.

"For a t-bone steak, you're paying $15 to $17 for one steak. It's hard to feed a family," said Porter.

One grocery store assistant manager disagrees, saying most prices, including fruits and vegetables, stayed the same throughout 2007.

"Even with the impact of the weather-related events we had this past year, food is still a good bargain," said Weathers.

And when you're on a budget like Porter, a bargain is a good thing.

"The common person isn't going to be able to buy groceries, gas and go to work," Porter said.

Leaving people like Porter worried about the year to come.

Shoppers are also worried about milk prices.

Commissioner Weathers says worldwide demand is to blame and that dairy price increases started before 2007.