The state Department of Agriculture recently released its expanded list of farmers for its 2019 industrial hemp pilot program.
This year, the program gave 20 farmers from across the state, including one from Sumter County - Nat Bradford - permits …
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This year, the program gave 20 farmers from across the state, including one from Sumter County - Nat Bradford - permits to grow hemp for state research purposes. Next year's program will grow to 40 selected farmers, as originally planned for, and Bradford will be joined by another Sumterite - John Rivers.
Historically designated as a banned crop by the federal government because the plant is from the same species as marijuana, hemp, however, has a significantly lower concentration of the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary chemical responsible for marijuana's psychological effects, creating a euphoric high. With a less than 0.3 percent concentration of THC in hemp compared to marijuana's 30 percent, there is bipartisan support nationally to legalize hemp to increase crop diversity and provide new agriculture for farmers.
Bradford said Tuesday that he and Rivers will combine efforts to harvest 80 acres for grain and fiber production.
According to research, the hemp plant can be used for grain production as a food oil for culinary use.
No farmers from Clarendon or Lee counties were in the program this year, and none are listed for the 2019 program, according to the Department of Agriculture.
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