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Agriculture

SCDA accepting hemp farming applications for 2021 season

Agriculture
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The S.C. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for farmers who want to grow industrial hemp after the start of a pilot program in 2018. (Photo/Provided)Farmers can now apply to grow hemp in South Carolina for the 2021 growing season.

As of Jan. 1, the S.C. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for hemp farming permits through Feb. 28, the SCDA said in a news release.

Since the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program was introduced in 2018, participants have grown from 20 approved farmers, mostly in the Midlands and along the coast, to 265 statewide (.pdf).

In April 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the S.C. Hemp Farming State Plan (.pdf), which had been authorized by the S.C. General Assembly and the 2018 federal Farm Bill. To reach approval, the plan had to undergo several updates, including revisions to lab testing methods, stricter compliance with the 0.3% THC threshold that separates hemp from marijuana, new reporting and sampling requirements, and mandated testing of every crop before harvest.

Last year, 350 people applied to farm hemp in South Carolina.

Requirements to receive a hemp farming permit for the 2021 growing season include:

  • Proof of South Carolina residency
  • Criminal background check (required each year)
  • Farm Service Agency farm number
  • $100 nonrefundable application fee and $1,000 permit fee
  • GPS coordinates of all locations on which hemp will be grown
  • Submission of the application and all required materials by the Feb. 28 deadline
  • Attendance at an SCDA orientation and signing a Hemp Farming Agreement before possessing any hemp, including clones and seeds

Farmers must apply through SCDA’s website. The process and background checks could take weeks, the SCDA said. Additionally, 2020 farmers planning to apply for a 2021 permit must report their 2020 hemp acreage to the FSA by the 2021 application deadline. 

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

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