The 2014 Farm Bill (Section 7606, 7 U.S.C. § 5940) authorized Departments of Agriculture to create industrial hemp research pilot programs. The South Carolina General Assembly recently passed House Bill 3559 making it legal for industrial hemp to be grown for research purposes in South Carolina in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) is the administrator of the application and permitting process. The law amends Chapter 55, Title 46 of the 1976 Code of Laws of South Carolina relating to the cultivation of industrial hemp. The legislation creates the South Carolina Industrial Hemp Program allowing certain colleges and universities to work with growers to conduct research or pilot programs contingent upon funding. The SCDA will allow up to twenty permits for the first year. Industrial hemp grown under the pilot program can be sold by the grower to a purchaser such as processor or manufacturer. The purchaser or manufacturer are included under the provisions of the law.
The focus of the SC Industrial Hemp Program is research. A grower is required to submit an application to the SCDA to be considered for a permit. The following summarizes the steps involved in being considered and able to grow industrial hemp in South Carolina.
Complete an Industrial Hemp Growers Application
Provide a Letter of Intent with a hemp processor/manufacturer
Provide a Letter of Intent with a South Carolina College or University
Provide information required in the application including FSA Farm Number, GPS coordinates, map of field location, and marketing and research plan.
Sign the acknowledgements page and application.
Mail or deliver the application and $50 application fee to SCDA.
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture released the SC Industrial Hemp Pilot Program permit application for 2018 on August 1, 2017. The application may be viewed and downloaded on the SCDA Industrial Hemp webpage.
The deadline for the application is September 15, 2017. The SCDA requires a hard copy be mailed or delivered to the address on the application. Email copies will not be accepted.
Currently there is no list of industrial hemp processors or manufacturers for South Carolina. Potential growers may reach out to processors in other states. The Departments of Agriculture from North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee have processor lists posted on their industrial hemp pilot program webpages.
A signed College/University Letter of Intent from an approved college or university is required as part of the SC Industrial Hemp Program application. Clemson University is an approved university. Growers interested in partnering with Clemson Experiment Station researchers may contact Dr. Jeanne Briggs with the Clemson Experiment Station to discuss their research interests. Dr. Briggs may be contacted at email@example.com or 864-723-7639.
County Extension Agents will not be able to fill out applications or sign the College/University Letter of Intent form.
Industrial hemp production was illegal in the United States until the 2014 Farm Bill allowing states that have legalized industrial hemp cultivation to conduct research and pilot programs. Clemson University was not previously able to conduct any research in hemp production. Consequently, there is currently no hemp production information specific to South Carolina. According to D.W. Williams and Rich Mundell of the University of Kentucky, there have been very few U.S.-based agronomic research studies with industrial hemp since the early 20th century.
The University of Kentucky has the most well established industrial hemp research program in the US. Their website is a great place to start. https://hemp.ca.uky.edu/
Since industrial hemp has been illegal until recently, there are currently no enterprise budgets available in the US that estimate the cost and returns of industrial hemp based on actual production. The University of Kentucky Department of Agricultural Economics released a study in 2013 titled “Economic Considerations for Growing Industrial Hemp: Implications for Kentucky’s Farmers and Agricultural Economy”. The study contains net returns estimates that are the closest thing to an enterprise budget for industrial hemp relative to the Southeast. Growers should realize these net returns were estimated before any experience with production.
For additional information, on Clemson Extension’s involvement in the SC Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, please contact:
Nathan Smith – Economics
 Williams, D.W. and Rich Mundell. “An Introduction to Industrial Hemp, Hemp Agronomy, and UK Agronomic Hemp Research.” University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. https://hemp.ca.uky.edu/sites/hemp.ca.uky.edu/files/uk_ih_information_for_agents3.pdf. Accessed 8/1/2017.