National farm bill has impact on food and hemp pilot programs in SC


Jack Maloney looks over one of the soybean fields on his Little Ireland Farms in Brownsburg, Ind., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Maloney, who farms about 2,000 acres in Hendricks Count, said the aid for farmers is “a nice gesture” but what farmers really want is free trade, not government handouts. American farmers will soon begin […]

Congressional lawmakers have come to an agreement on a federal farm bill. The bill covers several areas like food stamps, legalization of hemp cultivation, and crop insurance.

Early negotiations at the federal level on the farm bill threatened access to food stamps; a program to help low income families and individuals purchase groceries. The proposed changes would have placed work requirements on those who could get assistance.

A requirement that had many worry about access to the program here in the state. 

“It wasn’t really recognizing who work and are snap often don’t have regular hours, often are at the mercy of other folks and if they’re not making their work requirement it’s not because they’re not doing everything they can do,” said Sue Berkowitz with the SC Appleseed Justice Center. 

More than 600,000 people in South Carolina use food stamps. Ultimately, the final revision of the farm bill does not include those requirements. 

The national farm bill also has an impact on the state’s hemp pilot program.

The hemp pilot program is entering its second year. In the first year the agency approved permits for 20 growers, but this upcoming year it will be 40. 

The hemp pilot program is strictly for research purposes to see if hemp could be a crop here

“For instance with the DEA, the DEA considered it a controlled substance up until recently. In the first year, we had to go through a lot of hoops to become an importer to make sure thc levels are within the right level and the growers in their harvest are harvested within a certain time,” explained Derek Underwood with the state’s Department of Agriculture. 

The Department of Agriculture says the restrictions currently in place on the pilot program in the state like how many growers and how many acres was done so by state lawmakers..

The agency hopes this move by the federal government will help ease restrictions in the General Assembly also.

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