MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina hopes to grow its hemp farming program as it begins accepting applications for farmers ahead of this coming season.

One plus is that permitting fees are half of what they were last year.

Justin Lambert, an owner of Your CBD Store of Myrtle Beach, said it’s good to encourage new farmers to support a growing range of CBD products hitting shelves.

“Whenever I first opened up, they said there were roughly 3,500 brands nationwide,” Lambert said “And it’s just exploded from that standpoint. Multiple brands. So much stuff you can find… The nice thing about more hemp being grown is that it drives down prices.”

South Carolina farmers can apply to get a permit to grow hemp from the start of January until the end of February. The state’s Department of Agriculture is also opening up a lab this year to test hemp. Right now, there are just two labs in the state certified to test, including Clearwater Biotech in Greenville.

“We’ve seen rather consistent volumes over the past few years in the lab as far as how many people are testing,” Dr. Marion Snyder, laboratory director and chief science officer for Clearwater Biotech, said. “Some of that is a turnover, and some are the same ones having success.”

Snyder said she would like to see more guidance for farmers on what to do with hemp after they grow it. Hemp farmer Ariel Ezekiel of Holland Hill Farm in Aiken agreed.

“There are, or were, some processors in the beginning that had thousands and thousands of pounds in storage because they couldn’t process fast enough,” she said.

To learn more about South Carolina’s hemp program, click here.