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Hemp in S.C.

Twenty South Carolina farms were involved in a 2018 pilot project growing industrial hemp. This field is in Marion at Baxley Farms. Six T&D Region farmers are growing the crop during the expanded project in 2019.

A statewide hemp summit is scheduled to take place in Bowman Friday, May 17.

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The summit will be held at Bowman's Yonder Field from noon to 8 p.m. and will aim to provide local farmers information on the hemp industry and potential uses for the crop. Yonder Field is located at 180 Log Cabin Road, Bowman.

"I think it will be a good event," South Carolina Hemp Farmers Association Founder and Executive Director Lucas Snyder said. "We are hoping to have a lot of people in attendance and we feel like we are going to be providing some good information."

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The day will be filled with speakers having grown hemp in the initial license-allowance phase and scientists who study the plant and its impacts at South Carolina State University, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.

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Vendors who process and sell items made from the crop will also be in attendance to discuss their needs.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Funding a hemp farm
  • Transitioning from row crop to hemp farming
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance with state and federal law
  • Connecting into the hemp supply chain in SC
  • Tips and tricks and things to avoid

Speakers include:

  • David Bulick of the Charleston Hemp Company, a hemp processor and marketer
  • Jason Eargle, partner of Brackish Solutions LLC, City Roots and Cannetics

Since earning his MBA from Clemson University in entrepreneurship and innovation in 2016, Eargle has worked to push through legislation that provided for the inaugural Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in 2017.

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  • Event emcee and S.C. Hemp Farmers Association Executive Director Lucas Snyder.

Snyder has been working with hemp since 2014 from his time at The Citadel, where he entered and won a school-wide business plan competition promoting a hemp-based business.

Since graduation in 2015, Snyder has been traveling the continent to learn more about hemp cultivation and bringing that knowledge back to South Carolina to give the state's farmers and industry a boost with the new industrial crop.

  • S.C. Department of Agriculture Ag Outreach Specialist Vanessa Elsalah.

Elsalah is an outreach specialist with the Consumer Protection Division of the SCDA.

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The event is the brain-child of the S.C. Hemp Farmers Association, the Orangeburg Area Small Business Development Center and the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce.

Four individuals have grown hemp in The T&D Region as part of the state's initial efforts to create a market for the fledgling commodity in 2018.

Four new individuals in addition to two who had previously grown the crop will grow hemp in the three-county region in 2019 as part of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture's 2019 S.C. Industrial Hemp Pilot Program.

The 40 farmers participating in this year's program represent 24 counties throughout the state. The 40 permit recipients were chosen from 162 applications.

Snyder said the market is heavy on the CBD (cannabidiol) crops and with the limited amount of acres grown in the state, growers did the best they could to maximize their profits on the land made available during the 2018 pilot run.

Snyder said there has been a learning curve for the crop. Generally it is being grown by former tobacco farmers who have the expertise and the infrastructure already in place, such as drying barns.

With a year under their belt, Snyder is hoping 2019 will prove to be more successful with the added experience.

Snyder remains bullish on the prospects for hemp in the state, especially as more acreage is dedicated to the crop for more industrial purposes such as paper manufacturing.

"I think we have a very bright future where it can be used in the supply chain," he said.

In addition to SCSU, Clemson and USC, other universities conducting research include the Medical University of South Carolina, USC Beaufort, Furman University and the College of Charleston.

Beyond the opportunity to learn more about the crop, the summit will include entertainment from bluegrass band Southbound 17.

Refreshments will be available.

For more information about the summit, visit www.schempsummit.com or contact the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce at 803-534-6821. To email for more information email jjohns47@scsu.edu

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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