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It’s not weed. It’s hemp
Why aren’t more Colleton County farmers growing hemp? Or at least trying to?
Hemp is an industrial-level crop. While it’s a variety of the “weed” or Cannabis family, it is used to build or create daily products from paper to clothing to lotion and even animal food. It’s even used to help insulate houses.
The conversation about making hemp a legal product in South Carolina started in political chatter in Columbia about 10 years ago. Now, it is legal in our state. The S.C. Department of Agriculture has already selected dozens of farmers from across the Palmetto State to be approved farmers for this crop, which is set to become the state’s new cash cow.
Per our state’s Agriculture Department Director, Hugh Weathers, this new hemp pilot program is an “opportunity for South Carolina farmers to increase crop diversity.”
With the product being so heavily regulated, we don’t’ see any reason why neighbors of hemp farmers would have a problem with it being grown near them. Yet, in the latest list of approved farmers that was released by agriculture officials, there are no Colleton County farmers chosen to be hemp farmers. We did some digging and learned that no Colleton farmers applied to be considered.
Of those farmers chosen, the majority are out of the Pee Dee area: Marion County and Pickens County are approved by state leaders to grow about 80 acres of hemp, while Orangeburg County has two farmers who will each be growing about 20 acres of the industrial crop. Most of other rural counties each have about one farmer who was chosen by state leaders. Even in neighboring Hampton County there is one farmer who is growing about 18 acres. Yet, no one in Colleton was listed as an approved hemp farmer.
Beaufort County, Allendale, and Dorchester also had no farmers listed.
Is this because of the costs associated with the permit fees to the state? Is the equipment too costly or hard to obtain? Or is it that our farmers don’t have the interest in the crop? Or, perhaps you did apply and simply weren’t chosen. We aren’t sure of the reasons, although we would love to know.
Please let us know if you are a farmer in our community who wants to grow this. and, on the opposite side, tell us why you don’t. This is a crop that can potentially take over timber as being the biggest seller in our state. it seems to be bio-friendly and easy to sell in a federal market. Why aren’t we in the game?

Heather Walters (1491 Posts)