Thank goodness for our recent rains, but before them it was as we say in McBee, “flat-out awful.”

How dry was it? “It was so dry that the McBee sand would engulf your car if you did not have 4-wheel drive.”

Every farmer knows that in this heat we are always only two weeks from a drought in South Carolina. It is tough for farmers without irrigation – “living from thunderstorm to thunderstorm.” Therefore, the National Drought Mitigation Center, the S.C. Department of Ag, and other S.C. agencies are offering a tool for farmers and other interested folk to regularly report moisture levels, drought or flooding, crop conditions, and even upload photos.

Why do we need you to report these weather conditions or what the government calls “data?” First, we cannot just one day up and say we have a “drought” and expect government to do anything to help. Without data to back our claim there is no proof – you must remember that to government everyone is a liar unless you have “data” as proof to back you up.

Next, agencies across South Carolina are tasked with monitoring drought conditions and taking appropriate actions to help respond to and mitigate drought effects. We do not want some bureaucrat stuck in some air-conditioned office making decisions that should be made in the farmers’ fields.

At the federal level, the data is used to make the U.S. Drought Monitor Map which triggers various drought responses, including USDA disaster relief and Internal Revenue Service tax provisions.

“Farmers are on the front lines when it comes to drought, and we hope this tool will help South Carolina’s agricultural community easily report the conditions affecting their crops and livestock,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers.

Finally, it is so easy even a county agent can do it. To report information, farmers and other community folk can visit the mobile-friendly survey . Submitters can report their contact information and GPS coordinates, or choose to remain anonymous. Please report as frequently as possible, as it helps provide trend data – “constant proof to make the government happy.”

The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.

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