TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. — U.S. Rep. Tom Rice was back in his district Friday to find out what matters most to farmers and others in the agricultural business.

Rice made stops in Nichols, Dillon, Bennettsville, Florence and Timmonsville. He said the concerns he heard on every stop were basically the same.

“Our farmers and producers are concerned about crop insurance and Section 179, which is the depreciation provision,” Rice said.

Section 179 of the federal tax code allows a taxpayer to elect to deduct the cost of certain types of property on their income taxes as an expense, rather than requiring the cost of the property to be capitalized and depreciated.

Rice said the concern amongst farmers involves the depreciation provision, which allows them to write off the cost of equipment.

“Agriculture is very capital intensive. You have to spend a lot up from for a little return,” Rice said. “It’s important that our producers recover their investment in a timely manner in order to stay in business.”

Rice said he tries to visit each county in his district at least once a quarter, but Friday’s visit was all about agriculture. In an effort to make Pee Dee farmers’ concerns known in Washington, Rice brought a special guest on the visit: Congressman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture.

“The purpose of this tour is to get one of the decision-makers from Washington — one who is going to be the next chairman of the House Agriculture Committee — here to see and hear firsthand what our farmers have to deal with so we can better serve their needs,” Rice said.

“I feel like maybe this district has not had quite enough attention in recent years, and we’re trying to make sure Washington is aware of the issues we face here every day,” he said. “We need to do what we can to make this industry efficient and preserve our agricultural assets, and I think the best thing Washington can do is stay out of the way. We need a stable agricultural industry. It’s a matter of national security.”

Conaway agreed and said the farmers of the Pee Dee are much like the farmers and producers in his district in Texas.

“At every stop, we’ve had questions about Section 179 and people asking about the provision extenders. Unfortunately I haven’t had a good answer for them, because the chairman hasn’t announced the schedule yet,” he said. “But I hear what they are saying, and I understand. Folks who rely on it are concerned. They’re concerned in my district, too. I think the best thing we can do is help make sure the industry remains a viable one. We need to remove the barriers and let these producers make a living.”

BY Traci Bridges