CAYCE — Since industrial hemp was legalized in South Carolina in 2017, it has grown in popularity.
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Farmers are excited about the income potential for this new crop, but this fledgling sector is still facing challenges. South Carolina Farm Bureau recently added a Hemp Committee to its list of nineteen other commodity and advisory committees to ensure that growers of this crop have a voice when it comes to policies that will impact them on their farm.
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The Hemp Advisory Committee includes 11 farmer representatives from across the state. They are leaders in hemp production and bring the most up-to-date and in-depth understanding of the industry. Tom Garrison of Anderson was elected to chair the new committee. “We’re in uncharted territory with hemp,” Garrison said. “It’s a new crop that, until now, has never been farmed legally, and it’s unlike any other crop we’ve ever grown in South Carolina.”
Cultivation of hemp was legalized nationwide with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Prior to that, it was regulated on a state by state basis. However, there is still no set standards for the sale and process of hemp. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is working to ensure the integrity of the industry and will be submitting a state plan to the United States Department of Agriculture. This initial meeting of the advisory committee gave farmers a chance to provide feedback to SCDA representatives as they develop the plan.
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Clemson University will be leading the research initiatives and is currently working to identify which hemp varieties perform best in the South Carolina climate. Farmers were also able to share production challenges they have seen in their first two years of cultivation.
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“South Carolina Farm Bureau is excited to work with SCDA and Clemson on this new opportunity for South Carolina farmers,” said SCFB President Harry Ott. “At Farm Bureau, we are committed to being the voice of agriculture and our advisory committees are a great way to make sure that we represent ALL types of crops grown here.”
Farm Bureau Advisory Committees are an integral part of the grassroots process and provide information and advice about crops and agricultural issues around the state. They not only play a role in developing policy recommendations, they are also key to implementing those policies and interacting with legislators on behalf of other farmers of their same commodity. “I expect that this committee will be the leading voice for hemp regulations in South Carolina,” Garrison said.
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