What’s in the CARES Act relief bill for hemp businesses?

Last Friday President Trump signed the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion dollar stimulus and disaster relief package, that makes available funding to help deal with the unprecedented economic impact resulting from the COVID-19 virus.

The bill includes a number of provisions to help farmers and hemp businesses as long as they are in compliance with their state and federal laws.

  • Paycheck Protection Program – $349 billion
  • Expanded Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Grants – $10 billion
  • USDA Corona Virus Response – $9.5 billion
  • Commodity Credit Corp. (USDA) – $14 billion

For businesses, the best places to start is to contact your local Small Business Development Center as they can help you to understand and navigate the options available to you.

Below are some of the top opportunities for hemp businesses and farmers. This is likely the not the last bill to address the financial impact of the virus. We are currently advocating with USDA and Congressional allies for more inclusion of hemp farmers within the disaster assistance programs.

Farmer Assistance
Funding was provided to USDA for disaster assistance in the CARES Act but Secretary Perdue has not yet announced how the funding will be provided to farmers. We recommend you follow the USDA corona virus disaster relief page and we will continue to update you as we learn more: https://www.usda.gov/coronavirus

The U.S. State Department revised its restrictions on the processing of visa applications submitted by farm workers in Mexico after hearing concerns that the restrictions would lead to a farm worker shortage in the U.S. Consular officers can now waive the visa interview requirement for eligible first-time and returning H-2A and H-2B applicants, making more workers in the H-2 program available while prioritizing public health.

The CARES Act Expanded Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) do make farmer coops of up to 500 members eligible but farmers are not included at this time. We are working on a coalition letter to the SBA urging them to include farmers as eligible for EIDL loans. More details are here.

Small Business Assistance
The Paycheck Protection Program authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans and is available to businesses – including nonprofits, veterans organizations, tribal business concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors – with 500 or fewer employees. The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as the loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made AND you maintain compensation levels. You should be able to apply through any existing SBA lender (bank) starting this Friday April 3, 2020. More details are here.

Expanded Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): Small businesses may apply directly to the federal Small Business Administration to receive an economic injury disaster grant of up to $10,000 that does not need to be paid back. The money is supposed to be paid out to business owners within three days of their application’s submission but we expect huge demand and challenges for SBA to implement it so plan on it taking longer. It can be used to maintain payroll, cover paid sick leave and service other debt obligations. More details are here.

Employee Retention Credit For Employers Subject to Closure Due to COVID-19: To help employers (including tax-exempt organizations) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES Act provides for an employer federal tax credit against the Social Security portion of payroll tax that the employer pays. The act applies to wages paid from March 13, 2020, through December 31, 2020, and is available to qualified employers, which are employers who carried on a trade or business during 2020 and whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19-related shut-down order or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50% compared to the same quarter in the prior year. The amount of the tax credit is equal to 50% of the first $10,000 in qualified wages (including health benefits) paid to each employee, up to a maximum tax credit of $5,000 per employee. For eligible employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, qualified wages are wages paid to employees when they are not providing services. For eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit. Qualified wages do not include sick leave wages or family leave wages paid pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). We recommend you contact your CPA or financial advisor to learn if you qualify for the Employee Retention Credit.

Who is in charge of hemp policy in the Trump administration?

IN THIS ISSUE

  • Testimony of USDA Secretary begs the question, who is in charge of hemp policy?
  • Vote Hemp releases 2020 California Hemp Report
  • USDA approves crop insurance, deadline to apply is March 16
  • NASDA adopts new hemp policies at Winter Policy Conference
  • USDA Economic Research Service releases economic viability report

On Wednesday USDA Secretary Perdue testified before the House Agriculture Committee. He was asked about challenges with the THC testing provisions of the Interim Final Rule (IFR) by Rep. Lawson (D-FL). Perdue explained that USDA was attempting to make changes to improve the IFR but testing limitations had “a lot of impact from DEA and the Interagency” which were constraining USDA.

“There’s been some relaxation recently… this Interim Final Rule, we didn’t get it nailed right in the bullseye and we tried to make some corrections there and OMB has allowed us to do that, frankly the testing and the limitations had a lot of impact from DEA and the Interagency and they were not excited about the crop as a whole anyway and we had some pretty serious constraints so were trying to address the lab issue which was a real limitation.
USDA Secretary Perdue, House Ag. Committee testimony 3/4/2020

 

USDA did announce some positive changes last week, relaxing rules on disposal of hot hemp crops and delaying the enforcement of the requirement that testing labs be registered with the DEA. We welcome these changes and hope that USDA will use its authority to provide more flexibility to hemp producers and state regulators.

However, after listening to Purdue’s testimony, were wondering why officials in the Drug Czar’s office and DEA are having so much influence on hemp farming regulations and why USDA is unable to regulate as they see best and were authorized by Congress to do?

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and transferred the regulatory authority for hemp production to USDA. The 2018 Farm Bill only required that USDA consult with the Attorney General, not that they defer to other agencies or policy advisors on final decisions about how hemp producers should be regulated. We sincerely hope that USDA will continue to work with the industry and state regulators to implement some of the reasonable recommendations submitted to improve the IFR rather than allowing those in the administration who are opposed to hemp to dictate portions of the regulations that will hamper the success of farmers.

 

Vote Hemp releases 2020 California Hemp Report

2020 California Hemp ReportVote Hemp has been working to bring back hemp farming in California since 2002. We have sponsored key legislation including recent bills to ensure that farmers could grow for biomass (SB 1409) and to improve regulations (SB 153).

California is the only state where counties have a role in regulation and licensure. It has created a complex web of regulations for California farmers. Vote Hemp has been monitoring hemp regulations and moratoria in all 58 counties which has been extensive. If you are considering getting into the hemp market in California, the data and insights in this 25 page report will be very valuable. The report includes:

  • Exclusive hemp updates on all 58 counties including moratoriums & zoning restrictions
  • California hemp market insights including seed vendors
  • Contact info for county Ag. Commissioners
  • An informative history of hemp legislation in California
  • Includes the national Vote Hemp 2019 Licensing Report

To order your copy, donate $50 or more and we will mail it out within 5 business days.

 

USDA announces details of hemp crop insurance, deadline is March 16

The USDA has announced the availability of two programs that protect hemp producers’ crops from natural disasters. A pilot hemp insurance program through Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) provides coverage against loss of yield because of insurable causes of loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain or Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage protects against losses associated with lower yields, destroyed crops or prevented planting where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available. Below are some of the requirements of the program.

  • Available in select counties in 21 states
  • Actual Production History (APH) Program 
  • Covers loss of production (pounds) due to naturally occurring causes – adverse weather, fire (lightning), insects, disease, wildlife, earthquake, etc. 
  • Does not cover loss of production due to THC in excess of 0.3% (adjusted for measurement of uncertainty, if provided).
  • Does not cover loss of quality (e.g. CBD content, test weight, etc.).
  • Coverage levels 50% – 75% in 5% increments.
  • Types: CBD, Grain, Fiber
  • Insurability:
    • Insured:
      • Must be licensed.
      • Have a share in the crop.
      • Be eligible for Federal crop insurance.
      • Provide evidence of 1 year of producing the crop in a previous year.
    • Crop:
      • Acreage minimums per type, per county: CBD – 5 acres, Fiber or Grain – 20 acres
      • Must be grown under a processor contract (provisions for vertically integrated operations).
      • Rotation restrictions for hemp following hemp and other crops.
      • Cannot be:
      • Interplanted with another crop.
      • Planted into established grass or legume.
      • Planted after another crop harvested in the same crop year.
      • Planted after Final Planting Date.

The deadline to sign up for both programs is March 16, 2020. More details on the MPCI program can be found on the AgriLogic web site.

 

NASDA adopts new hemp policies at Winter Policy Conference

At the 2020 Winter Policy Conference of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), policy items addressing some of the implementation challenges that states have with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Interim Final Rule (IFR) were passed.

Two separate policy items were passed by NASDA Members:

  • policy item requesting USDA to extend the mandatory date of October 31st for states to change from pilot programs to approved USDA plans
  • policy item calling for a hemp data reporting system

NASDA officials also debated and considered a policy proposal from the Vermont delegation to request Congress to increase THC limits for hemp from 0.3% to 1%. This proposal did not receive a 2nd and was not voted on.

NASDA’s organizational hemp policy was also amended to underscore the needs of states in regulating hemp and also called for clarification of federal law that allows hemp-infused products not exceeding federal concentration thresholds to enter interstate commerce. All three actions were complimentary to NASDA’s comments on USDA’s interim final rule on hemp which highlighted 10 major changes to the rule.

 

USDA Economic Research Service releases economic viability report

The USDA Economic Research Service has released a new report titled “Economic Viability of Industrial Hemp in the United States: A Review of State Pilot Programs”.

After a hiatus of almost 45 years, the Agricultural Act of 2014, Public Law 113-79 (the 2014 Farm Bill) reintroduced industrial hemp production in the United States through State pilot programs. Beginning in 2014, States with laws that allowed growth or cultivation of industrial hemp could establish a pilot program or conduct research on the crop. Production beyond the pilot programs was legalized in the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Public Law 115-334 (the 2018 Farm Bill). This study documents outcomes and lessons learned from the State pilot programs and examines legal, agronomic, and economic challenges that may affect the transition from the pilot programs to economically viable commercial production.

To access the report, click here.

Key states announce plans to continue with 2014 Farm Bill hemp program

Washington, DC – So far ten states have decided that it is preferable to operate 2014 Farm Bill hemp pilot programs including market leaders Colorado and Kentucky. After reviewing the USDA Interim Final Rule (IFR), agriculture departments from Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Vermont and Wisconsin have each notified USDA of their intent to regulate hemp production under provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill.

This news along with thousands of critical comments submitted make a strong case that the rules as written don’t work for farmers. Vote Hemp advocated for a number of critical changes in its response to the IFR including:

– Including sampling Measurement of Uncertainty
– Sampling and homogenizing the entire plant instead of just the top 1/3
– Increasing the sampling to harvest window to 45 days
– Allowing states to oversee disposal of non-compliant plants without CSA regs
– Not requiring DEA registered labs which add to cost & are not authorized in the Farm Bill
– Basing negligent violations on actions and not an arbitrary number such as 0.5% THC
– Applying the felony ban only to license owners
– Urged USDA to issue a revised or new IFR quickly to give states & producers time to adapt

We are hopeful that USDA will listen carefully to the industry and make needed changes to make the program work for producers and to ensure the U.S. hemp industry can successfully compete in the growing world market for hemp products.

First legal Georgia hemp fields show crop’s promise

Georgia hemp research cropThis is where Georgia’s future hemp crop begins: in a pungent field at the University of Georgia, where several dozen cannabis plants are nearly ready for harvest.

The plants are lined in rows on one-third of an acre, sprouting fuzzy flowers that could be processed into CBD oil, the popular product sold as a treatment for a variety of conditions including pain and insomnia.

Tim Coolong, a university horticulturist, is growing the plants in preparation for farmers to start growing hemp across the state next year. Lawmakers voted this spring to legalize in-state hemp production. Currently, all CBD oil products are imported to Georgia.

Coolong is researching how well hemp grows, its yield per acre and which varieties prosper in Georgia’s hot and humid climate — information he’ll pass along to farmers eagerly awaiting the rare opportunity to cultivate something new and potentially profitable. His plants aren’t for sale; they’re composted after being evaluated.

“Our farmers could absolutely grow this,” Coolong said. “The cool thing about these plants is that they offer an advantage to Georgia farmers because we have a long growing season.”

Georgia farmers will jump into the booming hemp industry as soon as federal and state regulations are approved, a process that could be completed in the next few months.

Thirty-five states are already growing commercial hemp, and Georgia is positioning itself to become a significant producer within a few years. CBD retail sales are expected to reach about $1.2 billion nationwide this year and increase to $6 billion in 2022, according to Hemp Industry Daily.

Like marijuana, hemp comes from cannabis but contains little or no THC, the compound that gives marijuana users a high. State inspectors will test hemp to ensure it contains less than 0.3% THC.

Coolong planted Georgia’s first hemp fields in June after acquiring plant material primarily from the Carolinas. He grew 24 varieties at campuses in Watkinsville south of Athens, near Blairsville in North Georgia and in Tifton in South Georgia. Those plants were harvested a few weeks ago, and a second crop that was planted in early August will soon be ready.

Some varieties grew as tall as 9 feet. Others barely got off the ground.

“My goal is to provide information so that growers don’t pick the wrong variety and end up making a mistake that costs them several million dollars potentially,” Coolong said.

Hemp will likely grow well across Georgia, but it seems to prosper in the slightly cooler climes of the northern Georgia mountains, he said. Farmers in South Georgia will have to be more careful to choose varieties of hemp that can survive.

The crop will come with challenges. It takes a lot of labor to harvest, dry and strip the plants, Coolong said. In addition, planting costs are high — $3 or $4 for each rooted cutting that will be planted.

Hemp manufacturing companies are prepared to extract CBD oil from plant material.

Down the street from the UGA hemp fields in Watkinsville, a hemp processing company called GA Xtracts is equipped to test and process hemp plants, turning leafy green material into brown or golden oil. The company plans to make tinctures, lotions, ointments, soaps and pills.

“We’re hoping CBD and hemp becomes a brand for Georgia, where the state is associated with it just like Vidalia onions, California raisins and Idaho potatoes,” said Don Barden, the CEO for GA Xtracts. “We’re going to be a global leader.”

Because Georgia has more sunlight and a longer growing season, it could eventually exceed Kentucky’s hemp market, one of the largest in the nation, said Rob Lee, a co-founder of GA Xtracts. The company hopes to begin processing hemp from other states by the end of the year and then add Georgia-grown hemp in 2020.

The South is already a major player in the U.S. hemp industry, led by Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina when measured by licensed acreage, according to Hemp Industry Daily. Colorado has the most licensed acres for hemp production in the nation, with 80,000.

“The demand is through the roof,” Lee said. “Although it can’t be grown here in Georgia right now, it’s being sold everywhere.”

Georgia’s hemp production will likely start slowly, said Albert Etheridge, a co-founder of Pretoria Fields Collective, an Albany beer brewer that’s building a hemp processing lab. He expects a lot of farmers will initially try to grow between 1 and 5 acres, then ramp up operations if they’re successful.

“Everybody’s going to take a wait-and-see approach, and then it will grow up quite substantially,” Etheridge said. “I think it’ll go gangbusters.”

Several steps remain before the hemp industry can begin in Georgia.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has to release hemp program rules, and then the Georgia Department of Agriculture can review and finalize the state’s regulations.

Seventy-two people submitted public comments this summer about Georgia’s proposed regulations, with many saying that they’re overly restrictive. The regulations prohibit hemp farmers from selling to anyone but processors, and hemp couldn’t be shipped outside Georgia even though out-of-state producers could bring their product here.

Hemp growing licenses will cost $50 per acre, up to a maximum of $5,000. Hemp processors will have to pay $25,000 upfront and $10,000 every year after.

Farmers and processors say they hope government regulations are finalized in time for the spring 2020 planting season.

Content from: https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/first-legal-georgia-hemp-fields-show-crop-promise/DgOnP1vviaPRxsit64JaPI/?fbclid=IwAR31xKH944ZkY_gjrA4j1Umf_rUj7xb2QERxSpLReRPKMNAQNXygcTniDso.

Michigan farmers are taking advantage of the hemp industry

items.[0].videoTitle

(WXYZ) — Michigan farmers are calling it the next big thing in farming and for the state.

Hemp farming is taking off to new limits with endless possibilities and growth. It’s a new adventure for Michigan farmers looking to break into the CBD business. However, one Michigan farmer says there’s more to hemp than just CBD.

“It was one of those things that gained momentum quickly for us,” said David Connor, who goes hemp.

That’s what he first told his business partner Joe Leduc of Leduc Blueberries of his vision to grow hemp. Then there were many questions.

“He was a little dubious at first, I admit that,” said Conner, CFO of Paw Paw Hemp Company. “He was like wait a minute is this legal, that was the big question.”

Leduc Blueberries in Paw Paw Michigan is about 155 miles outside of Detroit. It has been in the farming industry for decades, growing mostly blueberries. But Connor saw something more – something that can really take off.

“If I plant a blueberry plant today, I’ve got probably three to five years to wait before I start getting something from that crop,” Connor said. “Where as with hemp, if you take care of it you plant it right, your feeding it right, that’s a six-month cycle.”

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the farming of hemp in Michigan. Farmers were provided with a license and regulations to grow hemp. Connor and Lecud decided they’d plant 4 acres of hemp seeds and see what happens, and take advantage of both the blueberry and hemp harvest.

“We need to add more value to what we’re doing as farmers, and so hemp really plays itself well into that market,” Connor said.

They were able to grow 1700 plants per acre. Connor says growing hemp is a very labor intensive process from start to finish, with a lot of trial and error.

“Hemp is one of those things that you’ve got to take a little more care in the beginning and a lot more work goes into it at the end,” Connor said. ” You’re getting a much quicker turn around on that product than you are say blueberries.”

The duo just finished harvesting the plants and so far the return looks pretty good.

Connor says Michigan could be at the forefront in the hemp industry, but not just for CBD oil.

“Not everything needs to be processed into CBD oil, but as we can move into different market demands I think it’s going to make things much more lucrative for the farmer,” Connor said. “The long term okay has got to be something more commercialized ,something more mechanized that fits in with your more standard we grower operation like a long stalk fiber type hemp that they can then use for industrial operations.”

Connor adds that hemp can be used for so many things that can benefit a lot of people and industries.

He says that in time, the industry will expand into areas where hemp can be used for things in every day use. Connor says it’s a risk, but a risk worth taking. As for next year, Connor and Leduc plan to expand, while continuing to grow blueberries.

Connor and Leduc plan on planting hemp on 100 acres next year. Connor says it’s an exciting time to be a farmer in Michigan with endless possibilities for hemp, and says the future looks bright.

Content from: https://www.wxyz.com/news/michigan-farmers-are-taking-advantage-of-the-hemp-industry.

USDA issues draft Interim Final Rule for U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program

USDAThe 2018 Farm Bill required the USDA to establish a national regulatory framework for hemp production in the United States. Today the USDA published a draft Interim Final Rule which will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday October 31st establishing a U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. This rule outlines a framework of regulations for the USDA to approve plans submitted by States and Indian Tribes for the production of hemp. It also establishes a Federal plan for producers in States or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own USDA-approved plan.

USDA draft Interim Final Rule for U.S. Domestic Hemp Production

Governor Newsom Signs Hemp Legislation SB 153

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading grassroots hemp advocacy organization, and the California Hemp Council, the leading advocacy group representing the interests of the hemp industry in The Golden State, celebrate the passage of SB 153 in California, which updates California law to take full advantage of the 2018 Farm Bill hemp provisions. Governor Newsom signed the Vote Hemp and California Hemp Council sponsored legislation on Saturday, October 12, 2019, and the law will go into effect January 1, 2020. This significant victory will bring California’s hemp laws up to date with the 2018 Farm Bill and strikes outdated state statute language that conflicted with the expanded definition of hemp that includes extracts, derivatives, and cannabinoids from the non-intoxicating flowers and leaves. To read the full bill, please visit:
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB153.

“The California hemp industry looks to become a significant force nationally thanks to the passage of SB 153,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “We are grateful to Senator Scott Wilk for championing this important legislation and to Governor Newsom for signing it into law.”

Eddie Bernacchi, the Director of the California Hemp Council, stated that, “The signing of SB153 is significant as it puts California one step closer to unlocking all of the economic benefits that a robust hemp industry will provide the State.” He added “Next, the California Department of Food and Agriculture will develop a state plan for approval. Implementation of a state plan will finally allow California farmers to fully engage in the hemp industry.”

“SB 153 opens the door for California to take full advantage of the exciting opportunities industrial hemp offers our agricultural and manufacturing sectors,” said Senator Wilk, the bill’s author. “Hemp is used in 25,000 different products so the opportunities are endless, especially for areas like the Antelope Valley which has the perfect climate for hemp production.”

SB 153 requires the California Secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture, in consultation with the Governor and the Attorney General, to develop and submit a state plan to the United States Secretary of Agriculture, on or before May 1, 2020. The USDA has 60 days to approve or deny that plan which can be resubmitted if changes are required.

In addition, SB 153 revises the current state provisions regulating the cultivation and testing of industrial hemp to conform with the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill also provides that upon approval of its state plan, California will apply new registration and regulatory requirements towards cultivators and consequences for violations.

On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law legalizing state regulated commercial hemp farming. To date, forty-six states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. These states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

# # #

Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow the hemp commercially. More information about hemp law, legislation and the crop’s many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com.

The California Hemp Council (CHC) represents the statewide interests of the hemp industry in California, including the protection and expansion of in-state cultivation, manufacturing, and use of hemp. The focus of the CHC is to influence legislative and regulatory issues impacting the hemp industry and its related products and to ensure that the industry has a strong, unified voice in Sacramento. More info at CalHempCouncil.com.

Vote Hemp Releases 2019 U.S. Hemp Grower License Report Documenting Planned Hemp Cultivation In The U.S.

WASHINGTON, DC — Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading grassroots hemp advocacy organization, has released its 2019 U.S. Hemp License Report. The report documents state-by-state progress of hemp legislation passed in 2019, reported licensed acreage of hemp, identifies states with active hemp farming programs and estimates the amount of hemp that will be planted in this critical year following the federal legalization of hemp through the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. To view the complete 2019 U.S. Hemp License Report, please visit: https://www.votehemp.com/u-s-hemp-crop-report/.

“We are seeing hemp cultivation dramatically expand in the U.S. in 2019, with over quadruple the number of acres licensed in hemp compared to last year and the addition of 13 more states with hemp programs,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “Now that we have lifted federal prohibition on hemp farming, it’s time build the infrastructure and expand hemp cultivation and the market for hemp products across the country so that all can reap the benefits of this versatile and sustainable crop.”

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp cultivation in the U.S. has grown rapidly. The number of acres of hemp licensed across 34 states totaled 511,442 in 2019—more than quadruple the number of acres licensed from the previous year. State licenses to cultivate hemp were issued to 16,877 farmers and researchers, a 476% increase over 2018. Licensing is a good indicator to show intent but we know from previous years that significantly less hemp is planted than what is licensed due to a variety of factors including access to seed and/or clones, a lack of financing as well as inexperience. This will be the case again for 2019 and Vote Hemp estimates that 230,000 acres of hemp will actually be planted and 50-60% of that will be harvested due crop failure, non-compliant crops and other factors resulting in 115,000-138,000 acres of harvested hemp.

Hemp processors are critical to the growth of the industry and the report also documents dramatic investments and growth in hemp processing facilities. States which license processors reported 2,880 processing licenses, an increase of 483% over 2018. Several key states including Colorado do not license processors so processing capacity is actually significantly higher. The growth in processors is largely for extraction and positions the hemp industry well to meet market demand for extracts but more investment is needed for fiber and grain processing.

The new 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by the President on December 20, 2018, includes Section 10113 titled “Hemp Production,” which removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, places full federal regulatory authority of hemp with USDA, and allows State departments of agriculture to submit hemp program plans for approval and regulate hemp cultivation per their State specific programs. The USDA is expected to release new federal regulations for hemp cultivation this fall as required by Section 10114 of the Farm Bill and states with approved plans can begin regulating hemp cultivation under the new Farm Bill provisions starting in 2020.

In addition to defining hemp as cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, the 2018 Farm Bill asserts a ‘whole plant’ definition of hemp, including plant extracts; and removes roadblocks to the rapidly growing hemp industry in the U.S., notably by authorizing and encouraging access to federal research funding for hemp, and removing restrictions on banking, water rights, and other regulatory roadblocks the hemp industry currently faces. The bill also explicitly authorizes crop insurance for hemp. For more details on the specific hemp provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, please check out Vote Hemp’s blog post, “Hemp in the Farm Bill: What Does It Mean?” https://www.VoteHemp.com/hempinthefarmbill.

Among the fastest-growing categories in the natural foods industry, hemp seed is a rich source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), providing both SDA and GLA, highly-digestible protein, and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron. An excellent source of dietary fiber, hemp seed is also a complete protein—meaning it contains all ten essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body. Advancements in hemp research and manufacturing demonstrate the remarkable versatility and product-potential for hemp. Hemp bast fiber has shown promising potential to replace graphene in supercapacitor batteries, which could then be used to power electric cars and handheld electric devices and tools. Hemp fiber can also be used to create environmentally friendly packaging materials, and hard bio-plastics for use in everything from airplanes to car parts. Hemp houses are also on the rise, as hempcrete, which is energy-efficient, non-toxic, resistant to mold, insects and fire, has many advantages to synthetic building materials, lumber and concrete.

To date, forty-six states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. These states are able to take immediate advantage of the industrial hemp research and pilot program provision, Section 7606 of the Farm Bill: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

# # #

Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow the hemp commercially. More information about hemp law, legislation and the crop’s many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com.

Farewell to most CBD lattes and gummies in Washington state

CBD products no longer legal in Washington stateStore owners will start pulling CBD gummies and drinks off of their shelves in Washington.

The state’s Department of Agriculture has recently clarified that CBD is not allowed as an ingredient in traditional foods. CBD is a derivative of the hemp plant that’s used widely in lotions and supplements, but it does not have the psychoactive effects -the high- of marijuana.

CBD is also not regulated under Washington state law the way marijuana is. The assistant director of food safety at the state’s Department of Agriculture, Steve Fuller, says laws around CBD have been hazy. Now they’re trying to clarify that it’s actually never been legal to sell it as a food ingredient.

“All the vitamin shops and grocery stores and even CBD shops, they’re not allowed to sell food products that contain CBD as an ingredient,” says Fuller. It may surprise the countless store owners who sell CBD infused gummies, soda, or lattes across Washington state.

The enforcement comes after the federal government passed the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp production. It allows for farming of hemp for industrial purposes, but still does not give authorization to use CBD or other cannabinoids as a food ingredient.

“And yeah, fully acknowledging that the cat’s out of the bag and that those products are on the shelves already,” says Fuller. “What we’re hoping to do is let folks know that’s not in compliance with the law and that many of them [are] either removing CBD as an ingredient or discontinuing distribution of the product.”

He says they’re educating people now and do not have plans to raid stores. Fuller says if people want to be able process and sell CBD foods in Washington, that would need to be approved by the legislature or voters, just as recreational marijuana was.

He says while food cannot contain CBD, topical products like lotion still could. And edibles will still be allowed is recreational marijuana stores, where it’s the products are regulated not as food but as marijuana products.

Content from: https://www.kuow.org/stories/say-goodbye-to-most-cbd-lattes-and-gummies-in-washington-state.

Oklahoma Farm Service Agency Director Allegedly Blocking Hemp Cultivation

A federal lawsuit filed in Oklahoma suggests that the state’s Farm Service Agency director has been misleading prospective hemp farmers about the legality of the plant.

Equitable Organic Ventures is seeking to contract with about 20 farmers who “desire to cultivate hemp” for the company. EOV is working in conjunction with an unnamed higher education institution in Oklahoma.

Scott Biggs is the executive director of the Oklahoma division of the Farm Service Agency (FSA), and he is being accused of threatening farmers and deterring them from participating in any hemp cultivation program, despite the recent passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and despite Oklahoma enacting an industrial hemp pilot program (under the guidance of the 2014 Farm Bill) last year. The state’s program “allows universities, or subcontractors, to cultivate industrial hemp for research and development purposes.”

Because USDA officials and lawmakers are still hammering out the details of a federal regulatory structure for hemp, the market remains under the legal auspices of the 2014 Farm Bill and its pilot programs.

EOV and its higher education institution partner intend on participating—with the contracted help from Oklahoma farmers.

But not so fast, Biggs has countered.

“Biggs has repeatedly and unilaterally communicated to FSA employees statewide, as well as inquiring farmers, that if they enter into a contract with EOV, or if they plant even one hemp seed, they will be subject to losing their existing farm loans,” the lawsuit states. (Biggs’ agency provides farmers with loans, crop insurance and other benefits.)

EOV began approaching Oklahoma farmers in March and April 2019, seeking contracts with those interested in growing hemp. “In abundance of caution,” according to the lawsuit, “all farmers were directed to contact FSA regarding their participation in the Oklahoma Hemp Program to assure the farmers there would be no negative implications for their participation with EOV in the program.”

One farmer, Jeff Dill, of Harmon County, wrote in a signed affidavit that a state FSA employee had insisted that he’d be facing penalties for getting involved in this enterprise. The employee told Dill that, were he to participate in this contracted activity, he “could be ineligible for all FSA programs.” The email also stated that he “could be subject to having all of [his] loans called and that anyone who was affiliated [with him] … would be subject to the same.”

In the lawsuit, EOV writes that FSA approval is not required under the Oklahoma statute governing its hemp pilot program—which is accurate.

EOV has an open request under the Freedom of Information Act for an email circulated by Biggs, which allegedly describes the agency’s approach to hemp farming: “[A]ll participants in the Oklahoma Hemp Program will be subject to having their FSA loans called, they will be denied new loans, and they will be subject to criminal charges.

Under federal law, any person “convicted under state or federal law of planting, growing, harvesting, or storing a controlled substance shall be ineligible for any USDA or FSA benefit.” And while the 2018 Farm Bill did remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, the state of Oklahoma has not done the same in its own statutes. “Marihuana” remains listed among Schedule-I substances, and the definition of that term includes “all parts of the plant, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.”

According to state statute, “Any conflict between state and federal law with regard to the particular schedule in which a substance is listed shall be resolved in favor of state law.”

The underlying urgency for the EOV in sorting out this interpretation lies in the very planting season: The company and the farmers may miss out on the year’s worth of business and lessons learned, if Biggs and the state division of the FSA continue to block hemp production.

Content from: https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/oklahoma-hemp-farmers-lawsuit-farm-service-agency-scott-biggs/.