Hemp not the answer for some struggling farmers

Hemp not the answer for some struggling farmers

LORIS, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina farmers may soon be able to grow industrial hemp, a crop that can be used to make several products like oils and clothing.

Still, for some Grand Strand farmers, they're not sure what to think about it.

The Industrial Hemp Bill hit the floor for its first reading Thursday and those closest to it believe it should have no problem passing. However, a Loris farmer said it won't fix his problems overnight even if it does pass.

"Well we're trying to clean up after a hurricane," said farmer Ronald Rabon. "The hurricane washed these roads out. We've got a field back there in those woods and we can't get to it. I've got a lot of neighbors that come to my shop and we go eat breakfast together. They've been through the same thing. It's not just me. If it was just me, I'd say I was a bad manager."

After losing nearly all of his cotton and soy beans in 2016, Rabon said making a profit in farming these days is difficult.

"You're talking about losing $240,000 in two years," Rabon said. "And people say, 'Well that's his profit.' It ain't got nothing to do with profit."

That's why Rabon said the new hemp bill may not be the answer to his prayers.

"A man like me, I'm too old," he said. "You'd have to buy too much equipment. I don't think you can just jump into the hemp business. What I'm trying to say is I don't think it's a miracle."

Justin Blue, an agent with the Clemson extension who handles agricultural studies, said while the crop has many uses, there will be a learning curve for farmers who have never seen the crop in South Carolina before.

Rabon said he doesn't mind if the bill passes, but to him, hemp may be a young man's game.

"Most of the farmers around here are a lot like myself; they're worn out," he said. "You ain't got no new farmers coming. And when you come with a new thing, you need new people. You need young people."

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