Students get early start in SC’s largest industry

South Carolina Department of Agriculture estimates that farming and forestry combine to generate more than $30 billion a year in the state economy. But the most recent census lists the average age of South Carolina farmers at 59 years old—higher than the national average by one year. Just 11% of South Carolina farmers are under 45. Nationally, there are five times as many farmers aged 75 or older than there are farmers 25 or younger. But in Honea Path, straddling Anderson and Abbeville counties, the future of farming goes to school every day at Belton-Honea Path High School. The ag education program there is one of the largest in the state. It boasts a track record of placing students in higher education and agri-business employment. And its FFA chapter is 236-members strong.