Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award-
Dr. J. William “Billy” Holliday
Dr. J. William F. (Billy) Holliday is a life-long resident of Horry County and graduate of Washington & Lee University and The Union Institute Graduate School. In the early 2000’s he was on the faculty of the W&L Summer Scholar’s program.
In 1989 Holliday was appointed by Governor Carroll Campbell to the S.C. Agricultural Commission on which he served representing Horry and Georgetown counties until 1999. While serving on the Commission, Billy saw the impacts of factory hog farming in North Carolina, watching unlined hog lagoons swell and burst into nearby rivers and wetlands. So when he discovered a bill in the SC legislature that would give the large factory farms unrestricted ability to do what they want in South Carolina, he spurred to action.
Beating the drum about protecting our rivers and marshes and maintaining local control over these operations, he garnered supporters in the business community and the legislature to defeat the bill which would have opened the way for massive, restriction-free factory hog farming in South Carolina.
In the end, the combo of Billy and the conservation community not only stopped the bill, but led to a new bill and associated regulations that were adopted in June of 1996, establishing the toughest rules for factory farm animals in the nation, keeping hog farms away from waterways and their smells away from homes and schools.
The importance of Billy’s leadership and success in the late 90’s was seen firsthand in 2018 as Hurricane Florence drove massive rainfall and flooding throughout North Carolina and South Carolina’s Pee Dee region. In North Carolina, the number of hog and chicken lagoons flooding the rivers and waterways was tremendous and the environmental impacts widespread, but were more limited in South Carolina. In this instance, Hurricane Florence showed that responding to his call for action protected SC for the better and in the words of Nancy Vinson, former staff at the Coastal Conservation League and CVSC Green Tie Award winner, “changed the course of ecological history in South Carolina.”
While Billy views his leadership on factory farm legislation as his most important contribution as an Agricultural Commissioner, his contributions don’t end there. Billy protected land under conservation easements in the Galivants Ferry area and in Marion County across the Little Pee Dee Swamp near the American Revolution battle site named “The Battle of Blue Savannah.” He served as Chairman of the Horry County Historical Society, supports scholarship programs for Coastal Carolina University, has sponsored ecological exhibits at regional universities, and promotes a deep ecological philosophy and activism with his support of the annual Play Card Swamp Festival.
Holliday is a partner in his family’s farming and timber business in Galivants Ferry, SC. Together the family sponsors The Gavilants Ferry Stump Speaking, a long-standing tradition that dates back to 1876. Holliday and his wife, Harriet, reside in Myrtle Beach. They enjoy spending time in Cashiers, North Carolina and in New York where their daughter, Hattie Gruber resides.
Congratulations! We thank you for your service to South Carolina!
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