By Clint Thompson
South Carolina producers interested in growing hemp this season will be issued permits by May 1, according to Eva Moore, communications director for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
South Carolina farmers will be able to produce hemp for the third straight year. Moore said interest has grown each year.
“We got a lot of support very early on from the South Carolina Legislature to help launch this hemp industry in South Carolina. It was 20 farmers that grew hemp that first year of the program. Last year we ended up with 114, and we’ll have more than that this year. We’ve definitely seen it expand from year to year. Folks get more and more interested,” Moore said. “Obviously, the market for CBD has been what most farmers are growing for so far. We hope to see that diversify a little bit. As the industry grows, maybe some folks will start growing for fiber or potentially like culinary uses, once that all gets worked out.”
Moore said there are 350 interested applicants this year. Permits are $1,000 each. Farmers also had to pay $100 to apply.
The state’s focus in increasing its number of processors helped the industry to grow last year.
“Early on, I don’t think we had enough processors. That was a concern the first year of the program, in particular. Last year we really focused on licensing processors as well so farmers would have a market to sell the hemp to,” Moore said. “We ended last year with 43 licensed processors in the state which was up from one at the beginning of the year. That was a help, I think, to farmers.”
To learn more, see how the USDA approved South Carolina’s Hemp Farming State Plan.
“It’s a new industry. It’s a risky one. I think this year we are hoping that the farmers that have some experience can really hit their stride and see it work,” Moore said.