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S.C. Department of Agriculture selects 20 farmers for hemp pilot program

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Twenty farmers have been selected to participate in the 2018 S.C. Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. The farmers, representing 15 counties, were selected from 131 applicants by the S.C. Department of Agriculture based on several factors, including agricultural experience, purpose of the crop, the ability to secure equipment and financing, and the desire for a geographic balance across the state.

In May, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill making it legal for 20 farmers to grow up to 20 acres of industrial hemp in 2018 for research purposes.

“The Industrial Hemp Pilot Program creates a new opportunity for South Carolina farmers to increase crop diversity,” S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said in a news release. “Interest in the program was strong, and the Department of Agriculture worked diligently to select a broad representation of growers.”

Five accredited universities will work with pilot program participants: the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University and USC Beaufort.

“This is a new industry for South Carolina, and we’re hopeful that these first 20 growers will lay a strong foundation for an expanded 2019 program,” Weathers said. “Ultimately it’s about growth and expansion for our farmers and our economy.”

The 20 participants, their county and the number of acres they will grow are:

Dupree Atkinson, Marion, 20

Steven Neal Baxley Jr., Marion, 20

Lynell Braught, Hampton, 18.43

David Bulick, Charleston, 19.95

Albert Bueno, Orangeburg, 19.54

Patrick Edward Burch, Florence, 20

Kevin R. Dean, Charleston and Williamsburg, 20

John Andrew Fogle, Orangeburg, 20

Danny Lee Ford II, Pickens, 16

Thomas Garrison, Anderson, 20

Patrick Jamison Jr., Orangeburg and Lexington, 5.46

Deborah Justice, Oconee, 20

Harry Bancroft (Chip) Limehouse III, Aiken, 20

Robert Mason, Marion, 20

Matthew H. O’Brien, Fairfield, 20

Janel Ralph, Horry, 5.97

John Rivers, Sumter, 20

Robbie Springs, Florence, 20

Joesph Watson, Saluda, 20

Robert Wilkins, Jr., Florence, 20

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