Mission and Vision
The mission of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture is to promote and nurture the growth and development of South Carolina's agriculture industry and its related businesses while assuring the safety and security of the buying public. Our shared vision is for the state’s economy to grow and prosper providing everyone, producers and consumers, opportunities to enjoy the fruits of agriculture.
Agribusiness, agriculture and forestry, drives the state’s economy with a $34 billion a year impact and nearly 200,000 jobs.
Agriculture is the foundation of agribusiness – a bright spot in our struggling economy. The numbers tell the story. In the last census, 27,000 farms were counted on 4.9 million acres of farmland in South Carolina.
The state’s fruits and vegetables are consistently ranked high nationally, which include leafy greens, tomatoes and watermelon, and South Carolina is ranked second in peaches. The diversity of the state’s produce revenues have doubled in the past few years.
Poultry is the top commodity in cash value, but there are several other livestock species and by-products that contribute to the billion dollar component of the agriculture industry. Beef, sheep, dairy, swine, horses, aquaculture, and even specialty animals, rabbits, emus, ostriches, rheas, llamas, goats and bees are all vitally important to South Carolina agriculture.
Field crops such as corn, cotton, soybeans, peanuts, tobacco and wheat are grown on over 1.3 million acres. In addition to traditional crops, other new crops are in the works such as flax which is grown for its strong fiber for clothing and other textile uses. Residues from crops are used for renewable resources such as biofuels.
The state's ornamental horticulture, floriculture, nursery, and turf grass industry beautify the state year round. Moreover, the green industry accounts for several hundred million dollars in annual receipts and ranks as South Carolina's second largest agricultural industry cluster in cash value.
Forests, which occupy nearly 70% of the state’s total land area, are essential for the state's economy, environment, and quality of life. Private owners hold a combined 88% of the state’s timberland area with private individuals controlling over half of those acres. Forestry is #1 among manufacturing industries in the state with a total economic impact of around $ 17 billion annually. South Carolina exports $1.1 billion in forest products each year. Timber is the state’s #1 renewable commodity at $784 million annually.
SCDA Programs and Services
The SC Department of Agriculture programs and services nurture agricultural commerce. The Certified SC marketing and branding campaign has created significant interest in the ‘local food economy’ as evidenced by substantial growth in produce farm revenues in the last 5 years. There are over 1,250 members in the Certified SC Grown program as well as a host of Fresh on the Menu restaurants and foodservice establishments, certified roadside markets, community based farmers markets, State Farmers Markets, community supported agriculture farms (CSAs), and specialty food producers serving the state. While our Farm to School and School Gardens Programs provide nutritious food to school children, they also provide nearby markets for local farmers. There are currently 52 schools in the Farm to School garden program. The average school size is 450 students, so there are about 23,400 students currently exposed to school gardens.
In addition, our new State Farmers Market can impact agricultural development in every corner of South Carolina. The initial phase of the new Farmers Market has been successful. We are working to keep that momentum going forward by providing increased opportunities to farmers and other users of the market. Doing so will help capitalize on a growing local food economy in the state.
Agribusiness Economic Development
Our partner, the SC Department of Commerce, has many agribusiness projects in the works. Several recent projects include the addition of a new retail Whole Foods in Columbia and a Heinz manufacturing plant in Florence as well as Naturally Advanced Technologies which contracts with South Carolina farmers to grow flax, a new crop for SC farmers which can be grown in winter. In a cooperative agreement, the SCDA and the SCDC support a staff person who solely works on agribusiness projects.
The availability of raw materials from agriculture and forestry are attractive to businesses wanting to expand or develop in the state. Companies want to invest where they can enhance their competitiveness and profitability. South Carolina is that place. We have a year-round growing season, fertile soil, productive farms and experienced farmers. South Carolina is within a 24-hour reach of 100 million people. We have available natural, renewable, and human resources, a ready workforce – educated and trained, and an infrastructure of highways and rail systems as well as a port that can be a significant player in the new export market.
The open spaces and green places of our farm and forest land are as attractive to companies looking for a home as they are for the people who already live and work here. We also have thriving local farmers markets which give a sense of the culture to the area. Nearby agritourism venues are also appealing to companies relocating management level employees to this area.
Exports and the Port of Charleston
Ag exports continue to drive SC’s already strong agribusiness economy. Volume at the Port of Charleston increased 17% in the last two years due, in part, to a new transload operation. That provides easier transition of agricultural and forestry products from inland to the coast to be loaded on ships. Agricultural trade is not only critical to farmers, it is important for a strong economy and for the creation of jobs. Every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports 9,000 U.S. jobs
50 by 20
A few years ago the South Carolina Department of Agriculture charted the course on a strategic plan for agribusiness called 50 by 20. Our vision is to increase the annual economic impact of agribusiness in South Carolina to $50 billion by 2020. To remain viable and vibrant in the next century, we believe that we can capitalize on our strengths to grow the agribusiness economy. Agribusiness must grow to meet the growing demands of the future.
Certified SC Grown