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Industrial hemp shows promise for S.C. agriculture

The S.C. Hemp Farmers Association, the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce and the Orangeburg Area Small Business Development Center teamed up on May 17 for the first S.C. Hemp Summit held at Yonder Field near Bowman.

Through the partnership, the goal is to “educate farmers on the potential that hemp has here in South Carolina,” according to Reyne Moore, president of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce. “Hemp is a historic plant grown for hundreds of years; it’s an industrial product that is really healthy. The CBD oil side focuses on pain management and anti-inflammation.”

It is important to educate farmers about hemp advantages, said speaker Nat Bradford of Bradford Watermelons. “There are over 20,000 farmers in South Carolina who could be taking advantage of hemp with the varieties of seed.”

Farm Bill will make hemp federally legal

One of the goals of the summit was to allow famers to diversify their opportunities to grow hemp, given that most farmers in South Caroline focus on crops such as corn and cotton.

Yonder Field hosts events -- albeit on a much smaller scale than its original plan

Topics discussed included:

• 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

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Lucas Snyder, emcee of the summit and graduate of The Citadel, previously won a business plan competition promoting a hemp-based business. Lucas is the founder and executive director for the South Carolina Hemp Farmers Association.

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Moore gives Snyder credit for his assistance in pulling all the contributors and guest speakers together for the summit. The all-day event featured 240 guests, including farmers not just from South Carolina, but from California, Oregon and Maine to name a few.

Plans are to make the summit an annual event, possibly extending it into an entire weekend, Moore said.

One of the goals Moore wanted to present on behalf of the chamber is to promote small businesses and show support for the local community. Yonder Field was picked as the venue because it is convenient to all major interstates for travelers.

Chamber members involved in the summit were Randolph Artisan Italian Ice & Gelato and the BBQ Bus. Simple Chef provided the lunch.

Sponsors supporting the summit included S.C. Farm Bureau, Industrial Hemp Processors, the Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities, and Jaderloon, the Greenhouse Company.

The evening reception began around 5:30, with guests enjoying entertainment provided by South Bound 17 band, a group made up of College of Charleston graduates performing blue grass/country music.

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.

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Contact the writer: tarat.greene@gmail.com.

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