More hemp farms sprout up in 34 counties across South Carolina

SCDA has granted more than 100 permits to prospective growers

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —More and more hemp farms are springing up around South Carolina.

In the past year, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) has granted more than 100 hemp farm permits, and with more producers growing the plant, one farmer says the possibilities are endless.

Ever since he started growing hemp three years ago, Jason Eargle says the plant’s versatility makes it a valuable crop in South Carolina. 

“The fact that it can feed you, clothe you, put a roof over your head and keep you warm, to me it’s the perfect plant and most useful plant on the planet,” said Eargle, a Founding Partner of Brackish Solutions.

Eargle says the 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for more farmers to plant their seeds in the market. 

This led the amount of acres devoted to growing hemp in South Carolina to rise from 30 acres to more than 3300, according to SCDA.

“Well we have a lot of opportunity here, we have a lot of generational farmers that are getting into it, tobacco went down a little bit but now we have hemp, and it’s just a lot of opportunity for the farmers,” said Vanessa Elsalah, the Hemp Outreach Specialist for SCDA.

Some farmers say they’ve already started seeing green. 

“We’re already making higher margins per acre than have ever been seen in South Carolina so the fact that we can grow higher yields than other states, we’ll be able to compete on a national scale and with higher margins for our farmers, processors, and retailers,” Eargle said.

Unlike recreational marijuana, the hemp grown in South Carolina does not contain the psychoactive chemical  THC.

With a wider variety of farms beginning to grow hemp, Eargle says he’s happy to see people across the state appreciate the plant and  its economic potential in recent years.

“Hemp should not have been classified as a controlled substance, schedule 1, the same as cocaine and heroin in the first place. We’re excited to see folks in our state embrace that and realize that it is just a plant, it’s just like cotton, just like soybeans, just like corn, it’s a plant that God gave us,” said Eargle.

Eargle says SCDA approved permits in all corners of the state in order to determine which types of soil would work well with the crop.

According to SCDA, 34 counties in South Carolina have at least one farm devoted to growing hemp.

For more information on the SCDA Hemp Program, click here.

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