Applying for a 2020 South Carolina Hemp Farmer Permit
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture will accept applications for hemp farmers between February 1 and March 31, 2020.
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Information about the 2020 Hemp Farmer Permit Application:
- The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) is administering the South Carolina Hemp Farming Program as authorized by SC Code Ann. 46-55-10 et seq.
- Anyone growing hemp in the State of South Carolina must successfully complete the full application process with SCDA and be issued a Hemp Farming Permit prior to taking possession of any viable hemp seeds, propagules, in-program harvested hemp materials (biomass) or any other sort of hemp plant material regardless of whether it is living (rooted) or cut. Farmers must submit this Hemp Farming Permit application; processors, handlers, or service providers (storage facilities, couriers, etc.) must complete the Hemp Processor Permit Application or the Hemp Handler Permit Application.
- Please note that only South Carolina Residents are currently eligible to receive a Hemp Farming Permit. Proof of residency may be required.
- New Changes for Growing Season 2020:
- Online applications, mapping, payments, requests, and reports.
- SCDA will no longer allow permitted farmers to let responsible parties grow hemp under their permit: Anyone who seeks to grow hemp in South Carolina will have to be a permitted hemp farmer. Current responsible parties who intend to grow hemp in 2020 should make plans to apply for their own permit, or to destroy any hemp in their possession in accordance with state law when the permit under which they are permitted expires.
- SCDA is no longer able to offer free Acreage Amendment Site Modifications (locations must be finalized and submitted with this application, afterwards the Site Modification Request and surcharge will apply).
- Application evaluation criteria no longer requires: research plans, partnership with a research institution, marketing plan, or letter or intent with a processor.
- Several changes to the sampling and testing protocol, required by the USDA that will make compliance more difficult, so genetic selection is very important.
- Federal law now requires that all states have a testing protocol to measure delta-9 THC post-decarboxylation – this means total THC must be not more than 0.3 percent. Plants with total THC above 0.3 percent must be destroyed.
- Federal law will no longer allow SC to have a remediation safeguard. Now hemp total THC must test at or below 0.3 percent (after accounting for the measurement of uncertainty, which is likely less than a 0.099% variance) or be subject to destruction.
- In accordance with federal law, cultivating hemp with a total THC level greater than 0.5% will constitute a “negligent violation” of the Hemp Farming Program. If a Permitted Farmer has three negligent violations in 5 years, he or she will face permit suspension for five years.
- Background checks are required for all applicants.
- Applicant must be an individual. SCDA does not currently offer farming permits to business entities.
- Growing Site modifications will require a fee after the application has been finalized. SCDA encourages farmers and processors/handlers to make sure they have their final plans in place before submitting an application to avoid site modification fees.
- SCDA is currently conducting a regulatory review of its entire hemp farming program and comparing it to the minimum requirements issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s interim final rule for hemp production. This review includes every facet of the program, from data collection to sampling and testing protocol. Because of this, there will be more stringent requirements and vast differences between the hemp farming program in 2019 and 2020.
- Participation in this program for 2020 is not guaranteed and is dependent upon USDA successfully approving the State Plan upon which this application is based.
- This Hemp Farmer Permit Application Packet is designed to provide sufficient instructions for completion by any individual who would be prepared to participate in the Hemp Farming Program. The application packets include a broad understanding of the program, but applicants should read the South Carolina Hemp Farming Act S.C. Code Ann. § 46-55-10 et seq. (which may be accessed here), the USDA Interim Final Rule (which sets forth the national hemp regulatory scheme, and which may be accessed here), and once it is approved by USDA, the South Carolina State Plan.
- Once the South Carolina State Plan is approved, if you are not comfortable with the Hemp Farming Program requirements that it sets forth, you may elect to not participate in the 2020 growing season and you may pull your application without penalty. The decision to pull your 2020 application will not in any way affect your ability to participate in the program in future years.
- Please make sure to fully review all application materials and regulations prior to contacting hemp staff with questions. SCDA is not in a position to offer direct consultation on completing a permit application or to educate individuals about the production of hemp.
- All costs associated with the production of hemp are the responsibility of the permit holder, including both profits and loss. There are no sources of funding from SCDA to cover any aspect of hemp production. Potential applicants should understand that at the present time it is possible that they may suffer a loss on their hemp crop. Limited production knowledge combined with an uncertain federal regulatory environment, recent changes to the sampling and testing protocol as required by the USDA that will make compliance more difficult and unstable pricing creates significant risk for the participant. The focus of this program is the collection of research data and learning through experience.
- You do not have to plant every acre you have been approved to plant.
- You do not have to complete this application. Not applying this year does not affect future applications.
- March 31, 2020, 4:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) is the application deadline to apply for a 2020 Hemp Farming Permit. All 2019 Permitted Farmers must apply prior to the above deadline to prevent a lapse in permitting. SCDA shall deny any Hemp Farmer Permit Application that fails to meet the deadline established on this application. No exceptions.
Application Fee: $100.00 non-refundable. Payable via check made out to SCDA if applying with a paper application or payable through the KRS portal if applying online.
Hemp Farmer Permit Fee: $1,000. You do not pay this now. The Permit Fee is due after approval of your application and background check and is payable via check made out to SCDA or through the KRS portal.