More than a dozen farmers in South Carolina will be guinea pigs for a new pilot program in the state that would grow hemp for research purposes.

The applicants for the hemp pilot program had to go through a rigorous application process. Only 20 farmers were chosen out of 131 applicants. They had to have a background check, present research and even a marketing plan.

Neal Baxley is a 7th generation farmer. He’s worked beside his dad and brother since he was a small child growing sweet potatoes, corn tobacco, and cotton. But now Baxley Farms is adding another crop to its land… hemp.

“It’s a great crop it has a lot of different uses. A lot of people will grow it for the fibers, which can be used in textiles,” explains Baxley.

The Industrial Hemp Pilot Program allows selected farmers to grow up to 20 acres of hemp in South Carolina. It will be a brand new crop in the state so this pilot program will help farmers learn more about it.

The farmers will report that information to help the state determine if hemp could be a crop used in the future.

Even though this program is a state initiative the farmers have to put up 100 percent of the cost themselves for the crop and growing operations.