LAKE CITY, SC(WBTW) – Lake City will be the new hub of the hemp seed processing plant.
In May, Governor Henry McMaster signed a bill to legalize growing hemp for research purpose. A new warehouse will process 400 acres of hemp grown across the state.
Robbie Springs, the co-owner of Southern Grain Farms, applied to be one of twenty farmers in the state to grow hemp for research.
“Hopefully it will be another revenue maker for us on the farm, another option we’d have. We’re waiting to see,” said Springs.
Springs says growing up, the entire community grew tobacco.
“The staple crop that was here for many many years was tobacco. We’re hoping that Hemp maybe could take that place and become a staple in this area,” said Springs.
Springs has been learning more about hemp and its benefits.
“It helps tremendously with people with seizures and if that’s the only thing it helps with, it’s worth it to me,” he explained.
A company called Tucker Naturals specializes in turning hemp into medicine. The company is in the process of buying an old building in Lake City to collect hemp grown across the state and study how it grows in South Carolina.
Billy Morris, the President of Caropar and partner with Tucker Naturals said, “This is the first year. After the 400 acres, it will go to 1,600 acres next year.”
Morris predicts the research found from the pilot program will bring more money to farmers and businesses to the Pee Dee region.
“Pharmaceutical companies will locate here to get the product. As other uses come out of the extraction side so that they can sell fabrics, materials or whatever it’s just a multi-uses for hemp,” said Morris.
He thinks farmers will eventually be able to sell hemp.
“The farmers have been looking for some alternative crops to grow since tobacco,” said Morris. “This crop should be a good crop for them financially. From what I’ve seen, the numbers, it’s a very lucrative crop for them.”
Springs lives just seven miles from the warehouse. He says the building will help farmers study hemp’s potential.
“I’m not looking to get rich. I’m just looking to make a living,” said Springs. “It’s tough when you’re not sure whether you can pay your bills. I’ve been there before and done that. I’d just rather be able to know that I can pay my bills and we don’t mind working to do it.”
The company is in the final stage of negotiations with the county. The goal is to have the building up and running before the first crop by June 2018.