The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) will accept applications for hemp farming permits for the 2021 growing season from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, 2021. The state’s Hemp Farming Program has grown from 20 farmers in 2018 to 265 farmers in 2020 – and each year, the program has changed as state and federal laws changed. When the federal government approved South Carolina’s State Hemp Plan in April 2020, the program entered a new period of regulatory stability, one that SCDA expects to continue in 2021. The agency now has six full-time staffers devoted to hemp regulation.

Requirements to receive a hemp farming permit include:

• Proof of South Carolina residency

• Criminal background check (A new check is required each permit year.)

• FSA (Farm Service Agency) farm number

• $100 nonrefundable application fee and $1,000 permit fee

• GPS coordinates of all locations on which hemp will be grown

• Submitting application and all required materials by the February 28, 2021 deadline

• Attending an SCDA orientation and signing a Hemp Farming Agreement before possessing any hemp, including clones and seeds

 All farmers must apply through SCDA’s online portal at agriculture.sc.gov/hemp. There are no paper or printable applications. Because it may take several weeks for farmers to obtain FSA farm numbers and background checks, applicants should review requirements and begin the process as soon as possible.

Permits are only good for the current year, so 2020 permit holders who wish to farm in 2021 must apply for a new permit. SCDA will not award a 2020 farmer a 2021 permit unless he or she has reported his or her 2020 hemp acreage to the FSA by the 2021 application deadline. For information, visit agriculture.sc.gov/hemp or email hempstaff@scda.sc.gov.

SCDA is tasked with regulating hemp farming. At present, our agency cannot provide training, information or grants for growing or processing hemp. Those with questions about hemp farming practices should contact their Clemson Cooperative Extension agent.