Columbia, SC 29211
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 $41.7 billion a year impact and over 212,500 jobs.
The agriculture segment of agribusiness is strong in South Carolina. The numbers tell the story. In the last census, 25,266 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 nationwide 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 $1.4 billion in forest products each year. Timber is the state’s #1 renewable commodity at $759 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 recent years. There are over 1,700 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 Farm to Preschool provide nutritious food to school children, they also provide nearby markets for local farmers. There are currently 136 Farm to School sites in the program, reaching about 64,970 students during the 2013-14 school year.
Our centrally-located State Farmers Market is creating new avenues for agribusiness growth in South Carolina. In addition to providing an ideal location for selling local produce and related products, the State Farmers Market offers the perfect setting for family-oriented events, large events and meetings.
Agribusiness Economic Development
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. 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. The Port of Charleston has the deepest harbor in the South Atlantic, which allows for a greater number of exports. South Carolina’s export numbers have increased by 157 percent since 2000, averaging more than $950 million in annual revenue since 2012.
50 by 20
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is on course to achieve its agribusiness strategic plan 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.