US This farmer had a million-dollar hemp crop — until South Carolina bulldozed it

03:30  12 january  2020
03:30  12 january  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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- Oorah' s Million Dollar Raffle! It ' s really simple: Winner recieves 1,000 times the amount they donate - up to a million dollars !

American farmers are promised a new cash crop with an annual value of several hundred million dollars , all because a It is hemp , a crop that will not compete with other American products. Instead, it will displace imports of raw material and manufactured products produced by underpaid peasant

a man standing in front of a tree: In Harleyville, S.C., John Trenton Pendarvis surveys one of his two remaining hemp crops prior to harvest last fall.© Chris Dixon/for The Washington Post In Harleyville, S.C., John Trenton Pendarvis surveys one of his two remaining hemp crops prior to harvest last fall.

HARLEYVILLE, S.C. —After Hurricane Dorian battered his farm in September, John Trenton Pendarvis faced a costly decision. Dorian's winds had blasted the hemp he had planted in early summer. On one particular 10-acre field and its nearly mature crop, he had already spent over $75,000 for licensing, seeds and labor — a sum that he hoped to recoup by selling the post-harvest hemp oil and flowers for several million dollars.

But the flattened plants were not his only problem. Because of water issues, he had used acreage not officially permitted for hemp by the state agriculture department. He called the agency to ask whether he should hire a crew to manually prop up the 25,000 plants. “They said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing,’ ” he remembers.

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This is because they had patents on new synthetic fibers and Hemp had a new machine that would put them out of business if hemp were to be used for clothes. Yet if it were legalized - we would solve many issues and have a multi billion dollar hemp economy as it can be used for 1000' s of products.

South Carolina lawmakers have legalized the cultivation of hemp in the state. They hope the cousin to marijuana could be another cash crop for Hemp is an easy crop : It needs little water, hardly any pesticides or fertilizer and grows in all soil types. “Any agricultural crop we can cultivate here and

He got a different response several days later when a phalanx of law enforcement officers arrived, handcuffing and arresting him for illegal hemp cultivation, then bulldozing his crop. “It must have been 30 of them coming from everywhere,” Pendarvis said recently, surveying the crushed remains on his farm northwest of Charleston. “Now it’s just all rotted up.”

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As his case wends through the courts — despite South Carolina not yet prescribing a penalty for what it considers a misdemeanor crime — Pendarvis has become emblematic of the hurdles that farmers face in growing a crop legalized through the 2018 federal farm bill. Laws are evolving across the conservative South, where hemp grows well thanks to the warm weather and fertile soil.

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Hemp crops produce nearly 4 times as much raw fiber than equivalent tree plantations! 1850 was a peak year for Kentucky producing 40,000 tons. Hemp was the largest cash crop until It was the first time a cash crop had a business potential to exceed a billion dollars (Popular Mechanics, Feb., 1938).

Hemp has been hailed as the little plant that could for centuries – for making fabric, rope, sails He recently returned to South Dakota from the Standing Rock pipeline protests and equates the two “The Bureau of Indian Affairs had long tried to turn us into farmers , and I thought hemp was the way

Hemp is outwardly indistinguishable from marijuana and smells the same when burned. Difficulty in telling the two apart is causing headaches throughout law enforcement. South Carolina, for one, requires farmers to be licensed and their fields approved. Crops must be tested to keep THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, at 0.3 percent or less of the plant’s dry weight.

“There are no manuals yet. Laws vary,” noted Billy Styles, a North Carolina hemp farmer who consults in both Carolinas and across western states. “I tell farmers to abide by the law — and understand it’s moving.”

The same holds true for the consumer market. In Georgia, consumption of hemp and hemp products is legal, but not the consumption of cannabidiol, the oil commonly extracted from hemp and used in a vast array of products. In North Carolina, it is legal to sell hemp flower that contains negligible levels of THC, but selling flower in smokable form may soon be banned. South Carolina allows consumption of CBD oil; smoking hemp flower is legally murky.

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North Carolina farmers take chances whenever they try to grow something new, but no crop poses the kind of uncertainties that surround industrial hemp . Hemp is used in thousands of products, from parachutes to energy drinks and a growing number of supplements and remedies containing CBD oil.

MINNEAPOLIS — Hemp ’ s had a role in almost every chapter of American history: It was illegal for early colonists of Jamestown to not grow hemp . In 1938, Popular Mechanics named it America’s “New Billion- Dollar Crop .” Noting its many uses and how easy farmers find it to grow, the magazine

Despite all the uncertainty, hemp is a lucrative draw. Its tough fiber is starting to replace wood pulp in paper, and manufacturers, including BMW, with a facility in Greer that is South Carolina’s largest employer, have begun using hemp-based cloth and plastic in cars.

CBD is even more of a market winner. Pendarvis said the plant’s profit potential vastly eclipses that of corn, soybeans, peanuts and the other staple crops his family has grown for generations. He might earn a thousand dollars for an acre of peanuts, he says, but nearly a million dollars on an acre of quality hemp.

Given that he normally cultivates around 3,500 acres of corn, soybeans, cotton and peanuts, the difference is one that might secure his future.

Pendarvis first ran into trouble after raising a first round of seedlings in a greenhouse in May and realizing that the water supply for his permitted field was insufficient. With a limited planting window, he utilized an adjacent field and another two acres in a field owned by a colleague 100 miles north.

He says he called the state agriculture department and was told to submit an amendment form. According to agency spokeswoman Eva Moore, he did not complete the form until after officials inspected his property. Weeks before the hurricane hit, they reported him to the law enforcement division that handles state-level drug crimes for willfully planting on an unpermitted field.

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Hemp has a long history in American agriculture, but it ' s gone underutilized since becoming the collateral damage of marijuana prohibition. But for now, hemp farmers are largely twisting in the wind in the face of natural disasters. That hasn't stopped 416 North Carolina farmers from planting

By the mid-1600 s , hemp had become an important part of the economy in New England, and south to Maryland and Virginia. The Colonies produced cordage, cloth, canvas, sacks and paper from hemp during the years leading up to the Revolutionary War.

His attorney, state Sen. Brad Hutto (D), contends that Pendarvis was treated like a drug trafficker by the officers who showed up and that his crop was destroyed despite the South Carolina attorney general saying judicial review should first be sought in such cases. Citing pending litigation, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division declined to comment on the case or its execution of hemp law.

Other farmers were shocked by the arrest, Hutto said. “Farmers are the most rule-abiding people you’ll meet” and certainly not accustomed to being arrested for growing a crop. Market prices, bad weather, equipment failures — that’s what keeps them awake at night, he added. “The last thing they need to worry about is law enforcement.”

a close up of food on a table: Given a burgeoning consumer market, hemp can be a lucrative crop for farmers. But laws governing its planting vary state to state — and continue to change.© Julia Ewan/The Washington Post Given a burgeoning consumer market, hemp can be a lucrative crop for farmers. But laws governing its planting vary state to state — and continue to change.

The Palmetto State had 3,300 acres planted in hemp in 2019 compared with 256 acres the previous year. And even with the possibility of tougher federal regulations for THC testing in 2020, Moore said Friday that it is prepared to license upward of 300 hemp farmers — nearly double the number approved in 2019. Some of them have a high profile, including former state representative Chip Limehouse and legendary Clemson football coach Danny Ford.

The 38-year-old Pendarvis comes from a long line of farmers who raised cotton and tobacco. “My daddy’s granddaddy started farming right here in 1919,” he explained in his deep middle Carolina drawl, leaning up against a muddy pickup truck and pointing across the narrow stretch of road. “That’s the original farm house.”

He remains amazed and horrified by his brush with the law — not just his experience of being arrested, but also of being handcuffed, fingerprinted and jailed. Plus, he still regrets the fate of his hemp field. “I probably had one of the biggest crops that’s ever been around,” he said.

His license has yet to be pulled, so Pendarvis plans to grow hemp again. He is well acquainted with the plant’s needs because of the similarities between farming and curing hemp and tobacco.

“Hemp is going back in there like a cash crop,” he said. “Kind of like tobacco was. . . . I figure you have a five-year shot to make big money right off the rip, then it’ll be just like every other market. The price will come down.”


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