Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Twenty South Carolina farmers have been picked to take part in a pilot program that will allow them to grow a limited amount of hemp.

The names of the farmers were released Thursday afternoon. Among them are Chip Limehouse, a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

Back in May, Governor Henry McMaster signed a bill that would make it legal for this select group to grow up to 20 acres of industrial hemp in 2018 for research purposes. The farmers will work with researchers from five universities in the state: the University of South Carolina, Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Clemson University and USC Beaufort.

The farmers who got the permits were chosen from 131 applicants. They were picked based on several factors:

  • Completed application
  • Agriculture experience
  • Geographic balance across South Carolina
  • Accredited college/university partner
  • Purpose of the crop
  • Processor experience and location
  • Ability to secure needed equipment and financing

“The Industrial Hemp Pilot Program creates a new opportunity for South Carolina

farmers to increase crop diversity,” said South Carolina Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers, “Interest in the program was strong, and the Department of Agriculture worked diligently to select a broad representation of growers.”