A thriving hemp industry is emerging in South Carolina despite some growing pains. When the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) received approval for the state hemp plan under the USDA early in 2020, over 350 farmers in the state obtained licenses, and 220 farmers obtained licenses in 2021 to grow hemp for its valuable flowers. The decline in applications for licenses to grow hemp between the two years was due to nationwide overproduction of floral hemp in 2020, which prevented some farmers from selling their product. As the industry matures, these supply and demand issues are working themselves out across the country in the floral hemp industry as hemp grown for other products that utilize its fiber parts and seeds is on the rise. We see federal agencies implementing new rules, more grant opportunities for hemp research available, and better banking and insurance options for farmers coming online.
In South Carolina, the State General Assembly recently approved a recurring budget of $750,000 for implementation of the state hemp plan and a one-time award of $500,000 to retrofit state-owned lab facilities to service the needs of hemp farmers in South Carolina. With the funds, SCDA currently maintains six full-time positions to implement the state plan: a program coordinator, office manager, and four compliance officers housed in separate zones throughout the state.
Clemson University compliments the state-run hemp program through extension programming, research, and outreach opportunities. More information on Clemson’s involvement with industrial hemp will be covered in future posts.