Hemp growers take one step back

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A combine harvests hemp at South Bend Industrial Hemp’s Field in Stafford County last year.

Last year, Kansas farmers planted 4,000 acres of hemp but harvested only 700 acres, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and now fewer farmers are concerned about aspects of the crop’s viability.

“Things are headed in the wrong direction,” said Sarah Stephens Selmon, noting that there are 85 licensed growers in Kansas this year, down from 250 in 2019 and 2020.

Stephens, as owner of Tallgrass Hemp & Cannabis in Wichita, was one of the first to harvest industrial hemp in 2019. She grew about 100 plants that year.

Another hemp grower, Melissa Nelson Baldwin in Great Bend, Kansas was actually able to harvest all of her planted crop last year.

“Yes, we had challenges but it wasn’t any more uncommon challenges than you face in any of the other crops we harvest,” said Nelson Baldwin.

She grows industrial hemp with her husband Aaron Baldwin and brother-in-law Richard Baldwin, who co-own South Bend Industrial Hemp. Nelson Baldwin said the planting date was critical for success and getting the crop in early is important for weed control and canopy cover.

“I think people didn’t realize how much work there is for the return they get, and I think a lot of farmers didn’t have a plan for harvest either,” she said.

Her team put their hemp under a pivot. They ran into a few challenges with drying because of high humidity in Kansas, she said.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has few statistics concerning the large differences between planted and harvested acreages. It may have had to do with weather, management constraints or “hot” crops with higher than allowed THC levels, said Braden Hoch, the state’s industrial hemp supervisor. Of the planted acres in 2020, 34 acres tested hot , whereas the remainder of planted acres were non-yielding or failed to produce a crop, he said.

Some of the hemp crop at Always Sunny Bee & Hemp Farm near Hutchinson, Kansas was destroyed last spring because it was over the allowed amount of THC by 0.08, according to owner PJ Sneed.

He has grown hemp since the inception of the program in Kansas 2018-2019, and he sees several key challenges so far, partly caused by red tape and bureaucracy, he said, and partly due to wild hemp varieties.

“The native feral hemp in at least Reno County will prohibit outdoor CBD grows,” he said.

Kelly Rippel can appreciate Sneed’s frustration. Rippel is founding president of Planted Association of Kansas, and founder of Kansans for Hemp and a member of the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Hemp Advisory Board. He’s been a strong advocate for decades for full allowance of both cultivation and research into feral varieties.

“Cross pollination is an issue we will continue to work on, especially with the looming introduction of medicinal cannabis,” Rippel said.

Meanwhile, up to 90% of the hemp in Kansas has been grown for CBD – cannabidiol – and flower production.

“While weather created a lot of challenges the first year, the rain delayed a lot of planting” Rippel said. “Planting didn’t get in on time (and) there are always pests. Kansas has naturally occurring hemp that cross-pollinates with anything grown.”

The term “hemp” is cannabis containing 0.3% or less THC content by dry weight. Marijuana refers to THC content of greater than 0.3%.

Distribution of future hemp production will depend on end use for the hemp. Certain areas may not be suitable for growing, said Hoch , the hemp supervisor for the state.

Since Feb. 1, the Kansas Department of Agriculture began licensing growers to grow hemp commercially under the 2018 farm bill. The last two years, growing hemp in Kansas was limited to research projects, including one at Kansas State University.

This month, the Kansas Department of Agriculture submitted three potential changes to its hemp rules. They would extend the harvest window of from 15 to 30 days from sampling to better allow for producers to cope with unexpected weather events and other agricultural constraints. They would also create a way to work with crops that tested hot. A producer could remediate the crop by mixing and blending until it does not exceed 0.3% THC rather than destroy it. The changes would also increase the negligent violation threshold from 0.5% to 1% THC.

If approved, the revised regulations could be in place by this harvest season.

The state is also considering matching up with the federal rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That would raise the negligence level of THC up to 1% and still have an approved crop.

“In other words, if a farmer has done everything they can to ensure they’ve grown a legal crop, they wouldn’t be held liable for their crop going hot,” Rippel said. “New provisions will allow them to remediate it before they’d have to destroy it.” Regulations are part of the puzzle. Rippel has been working from all angles.

“There has been a learning curve with machinery and genetics. Also, there hasn’t been a robust effort to get a supply chain built at the state level,” Rippel said. “I’ve been talking with a seed company who is awaiting FDA approval, and we also need processors for fiber, specifically.”

Content from: https://www.agupdate.com/midwestmessenger/news/state-and-regional/hemp-growers-take-one-step-back/article_73593fb2-af63-11eb-96f8-c397b50c8b74.html.

Celebrating the Life of Steve Levine

Steve Levine arrested at DEA headquartersWe were saddened to learn that our friend and colleague Steve Levine passed away on January 1, 2022. Steve was a Vote Hemp board member who worked for more than 20 years to grow the hemp industry and legalize hemp.

In October of 2009, Steve was part of a group of farmers and hemp industry leaders that were arrested for planting hemp on the DEA headquarters lawn to protest the ban on hemp farming. Steve was very passionate about bringing back hemp farming and spoke eloquently about the need to change the law in a video of the protest.

Farmers Will Allen and Wayne Hauge plant hemp at DEA HeadquartersSteve founded the Santa Barbara Hemp Company in the mid 1990’s and sold a wide variety of hemp products via his retail store and at events including the Santa Barbara Hemp Festival which he founded. Steve joined the Hemp Industries Association and was elected to the board of directors in the early 2000’s. Steve became HIA President in 2005 and served in that role for more than 10 years.

From 2005 to 2013, Steve worked tirelessly to pass hemp farming legislation in California. Joined by his colleagues, Steve walked the halls of the State Capitol endlessly educating legislators on hemp and spoke persuasively numerous times before committees hearing the bills. His doggedness helped to finally pass the bill on the fourth attempt.

Steve Levine and DylanSteve was also a diehard Dodgers fan and even once met the famed Vin Scully in the top deck bathroom. Out of respect for Vinny’s space, he left Vinny alone to catch his breath between innings. That was typical of Steve, he always respected others’ need for a break. For decades he attended games with David Lander who played Squiggy on the popular sitcom Laverne and Shirley in the 70s. Steve helped David around the stadium after he developed Multiple Sclerosis. Such compassion symbolizes Steve’s huge heart.

Steve Levine with David Bronner, Patrick Goggin, Denny Finneran and Sue Kastensen

Steve also worked for many years as the Trade Show Director for Dr. Bronner’s and exhibited at many shows and events including Expo West, Green Festival, BioFach and Patients Out of Time.

Steve always had a huge smile and was known widely throughout the industry for his positivity and dedication to his favorite plant.

Steve lived in Carpenteria California and is survived by his wife Kathi.

Steve Levine and friends

Steve Levine owner of Santa Barbara Hemp Company

Steve Levine at Santa Barbara Hemp Company

Landmark Hemp Bill AB 45 Signed By Gov. Newsom!

California Hemp CouncilOn Wednesday October 6, 2021, AB 45 was Signed into law by Governor Newsom. The official announcement can be found here. While the signing was done with little fanfare, this is none the less a major accomplishment following 3 years of work by the California Hemp Council and other hemp advocates. AB 45 (Aguiar-Curry), is a vital measure to ensure the continued success of the hemp industry in California, as it affirmatively authorizes the use of hemp in foods, beverages, cosmetics and even pet products in the state. With a legislative structure to regulate hemp derived products now in place, AB 45 sets the stage for the logical next steps, which includes authorization of smokable hemp products and integration of hemp into the cannabis supply chain.

Gov. Newsom signs hemp bill AB 45The California Hemp Council has lead the effort along with Vote Hemp and other hemp and cannabis advocacy groups to pass legislation that would create a legal path to market for hemp extracts in foods and supplements. The enactment of AB 45 is the result of a 3 year effort to address the misguided California Department of Public Health (CDPH) policy and open up California, the largest U.S. market for hemp derived cannabinoids. We would like to especially thank Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry for championing this effort and committing to continue the fight to open all markets to hemp.

Sales of hemp products have been growing each year for more than a decade and sales of CBD products in California grew to $730 million in 2019. AB 45 will open this market for thousands of retailers who can now legally sell hemp products that were banned under the CDPH policy.

Gov. Newsom Signs SB 292 – California Hemp Council Sponsored Hemp Cultivation Legislation

California Hemp CouncilOn Monday October 4th, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 292 (Wilk), the CHC sponsored measure that will conform California statutes regulating the reporting and testing of industrial hemp to the new requirements established under the United States Department of Agriculture interim and final rule, including provisions to align the California Food and Agricultural Code, California Department of Food and Agriculture regulations and the State Plan with the federal requirements.

Specifically, the bill will:

• Require registered established agricultural research institutions, registered growers of industrial hemp, and registered hemp breeders to report to the Farm Service Agency of the USDA information regarding their hemp production in the state including the location, acreage, and license or registration number associated with each location where hemp will be produced.
• Require that laboratory test reports of hemp allow for a measurement of uncertainty associated with the test results.
• Require laboratories to use appropriate, validated methods and procedures for all testing activities, including when estimating the measurement of uncertainty.
• Sunsets sections of the California Food and Agriculture Code that will become inoperative upon the sunset of the 2014 federal Farm Bill and makes technical changes to other sections that need updating due to changes in the Industrial Hemp Program.
• Allows for “despoil” of noncompliant “hot hemp” in addition to “destruction.”

The signing of SB 292 caps off a multiyear effort, led by the California Hemp Council, to authorize and optimize hemp cultivation in the state. These efforts included the passage of two previous bills (SB 1409 (Wilk) – 2018 & SB 153 (Wilk) – 2019). The net effect of all three measures has resulted in a legal state hemp program and the ensured long term success of hemp cultivation in California.

We would like to thank Senator Wilk for his steadfast commitment in pursuing success for California’s hemp industry.

California Bill AB 45 Passed! Going to Governor’s Desk for Expected Signature.

California Hemp CouncilOur multiyear effort to address the issuance of a California Department of Public Health (CDPH) FAQ in July of 2018, which prohibited the use of hemp derived cannabinoids in foods, beverages and cosmetics, is going to Governor Newsom’s desk. The bill, AB 45 (Aguiar-Curry), is a vital measure to ensure the continued success of the hemp industry in California as it affirmatively authorizes the use of hemp in foods, beverages, cosmetics and even pet products in the state.

The California Hemp Council has lead the effort along with Vote Hemp and other hemp and cannabis advocacy groups to pass legislation that would create a legal path to market for hemp extracts in foods and supplements. Today’s passage is the result of a 3 year effort to address the CDPH policy and open up California, the largest U.S. market for hemp derived cannabinoids.

Please take a moment to send an email of support on behalf of yourself, your company or your organization and please share this request with your network. Click here for a pre-written letter that you can modify.

If the link doesn’t work for you, below is a draft email for your use.
Dear Governor Newsom,

Please support AB 45 authored by State Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry which creates a regulatory framework for the retail sale and use of hemp-derived products including CBD. The regulatory structure created by AB 45 also provides significant consumer protections related to hemp derived products including testing, labeling and adherence to the Sherman Act (California’s food Drug and cosmetics safety law) and current good manufacturing practices under the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). In addition to CDPH safety oversight, AB 45 requires the same testing for California hemp products as is required for California cannabis products, which are some of the most stringent in the nation. Plainly, AB 45 will properly place California as a leader and model for the rest of the country in ensuring consumer access and safety as it relates to the sale and use of hemp-derived products.

Furthermore, the bill will provide economic stimulus. Authorizing the use of hemp in food, beverage and consumer products will create a significant path forward for California farmers to expand in the hemp industry. Not to mention that AB 45 fully opens California up to the billion-dollar hemp CBD market and provides a runway for the integration of hemp into the cannabis market to the benefit of both industries.

For these reasons, I ask you to support AB 45 to ensure California consumers can purchase safe, effective and non-intoxicating hemp products while providing

Please send the comments to:
governor@governor.ca.gov

FDACS marks 1-year of Florida’s State Hemp Program, $370M economic impact

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — April 27 marks the one-year anniversary of Florida’s state hemp program, overseen by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

FDACS and its Office of Cannabis manages and regulates Florida’s hemp program and cannabis products, including CBD.

In its first year, hemp in Florida created an estimated $370 million economic impact, supported over 9,000 jobs, and generated over $17 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue, according to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

“Florida’s state hemp program is leading the way in creating great jobs, safe and useful products, and a bright future for this new industry. It’s a great crop for Florida’s farmers with the potential for over 25,000 uses including textiles, biocomposite building materials, biodegradable packaging products, and food and medicinal products like CBD,” said Commissioner Fried.

In 2021, FDACS will put increased emphasis on consumer outreach and education in multiple languages for diverse audiences, and today released a bilingual hemp education video in Spanish and English.

“In year two, we will increase multicultural public education and outreach on the benefits of hemp, and supporting hemp producers, processors, and retailers in meeting consumer needs and increasing demand,” Fried said. “We will also advance research and testing, ensuring Florida Hemp products meet the rigorous quality and safety standards that the law requires and consumers deserve. I’m proud of our department’s work on this new green economic driver, and I believe that Floridians will enjoy the benefits of this commodity for generations to come. The sky’s the limit for Florida Hemp and we’re very excited about year two.”

Since FDACS began accepting applications to grow industrial hemp on April 27, 2020, Florida has approved more than 800 hemp cultivation permits for farmers in 65 of Florida’s 67 counties, with more than 30,000 acres approved for planting.

After the 2018 Farm Bill removed prohibitions on industrial hemp in place since 1937, Commissioner Fried worked with the Florida Legislature in 2019 to pass historic state hemp program legislation.

In 2019, Fried appointed the state’s first-ever Cannabis Director and created the state’s first-ever Hemp Advisory Committee, and FDACS hosted five workshops and public hearings across Florida on state hemp rulemaking, worked ahead of the USDA to finalize rule development, and provided feedback to the USDA on its draft rules.

On April 16, 2020, the USDA approved Florida’s state hemp program, clearing the way for growers to begin cultivation on April 27, 2020.

More information about growing hemp in Florida may be found at the FDACS Office of Cannabis website.

Content from: https://www.wtxl.com/news/local-news/fdacs-marks-1-year-of-floridas-state-hemp-program-370m-economic-impact.

Utah State researchers debunk myths to find optimal hemp growth

Utah Hemp Cultivation

Logan – Ninety years ago, hemp researchers at Utah State University grew cannabis for rope and had no way to test the THC content in crops other than smoking it and monitoring the effects. Research halted in 1970 when then-President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act.

Now that it’s legal to grow once more USU researchers are back at it — only this time, they’re using technology and testing to determine the optimal ways to grow the plant for high yield and cannabinoid content, and what that means for Utah growers.

“We do a lot of trying to nurture these plants as best we can,” said Mitch Westmoreland, the Ph.D. student running the lab at USU’s greenhouse. “But then we also go on the other side of things and see how much we can torture these plants without them dying. … One of the big questions that a lot of people have, especially in Utah, is how drought stress affects cannabinoid concentration.”

There are at least 66 different cannabinoids in cannabis flower, with THC and CBD being the most well-known. Where THC is the only known component to be psychoactive, CBD’s uses seem to be purely medicinal, with studies suggesting it reduces epileptic seizures and soothes a multitude of other health issues.

Cannabis plants that come in with more than 0.3% THC are referred to as marijuana, while hemp refers to those with low THC and higher CBD counts. Where there are only eight growers in the state licensed to farm medical-grade marijuana, there are roughly 12 farms in Cache Valley that received permits to grow hemp.

Most of USU’s funding comes from large-scale growing operations across the United States. Because it was illegal to grow cannabis in Utah for so long, a lot of the university’s preliminary testing is debunking claims related to growing the plant.

“All these people that have been growing it illegally, they didn’t study science in school, like biology and all the principles, so they make a lot of observations and a lot of bizarre conclusions,” said Bruce Bugbee, the USU professor over the project. “Like you need to plant at the full moon … and the world of cannabis is full of stuff like that.”

In January, he posted a video to YouTube debunking a claim that specific colors of light are needed to produce higher yield for harvest. It has since received more than 1 million views.

Another cannabis-growing claim is that the plant needs an exorbitant amount of phosphorus to produce more flower — the part of the plant that houses CBD, THC and cannabinoids. Not only did it prove ineffective in terms of yield, but Westmoreland said using less phosphorus can have a huge impact environmentally.

“The implications are huge just because phosphorus is a huge pollutant,” he said. “It’s polluting the lakes and the rivers, and people just dump it on in agriculture. Very rarely do you see phosphorus toxicity (in plants) so there’s really no harm to over-applying, at least to the farmer, but the downstream effects are huge.”

For example, high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in lakes and water sources can lead to increased algal bloom, which can then choke out other aquatic species like fish.

Similar to the indoor, controlled research, the cannabis old-wives’ tales have proven false in the outdoor fields helmed by Dr. Matt Yost, an assistant professor and the agroclimate specialist for USU Extension, and grad student Tina Sullivan. At least, those that have been tested.

“I really wanted to plant on the full moon, but we couldn’t swing that,” Yost said with a chuckle in a presentation for USU’s Remote Crop Field Day event on Wednesday.

While the indoor greenhouses can be tailored to control for nearly every aspect of the plant’s life, the outdoor research has seen a steeper learning curve.

Many farmers decided to try their hand at growing hemp for CBD after the Farm Bill legalizing hemp production passed in 2018. But like USU’s researchers, it was a new product and not all fields had a profitable outcome.

“We got approval to study it in the field in April, and we planted in May,” Yost said. “It was fast — like a lot of the farmers last year.”

Another problem outdoor growers are seeing is that hemp is “finicky,” Sullivan said. In addition to farmers’ only option for herbicides being pre-emergent — as hemp generally needs to be planted from cloned cultivars to exclude male plants from crops — it needs massive care.

“Labor has been the highest cost for us,” Yost said. “And a lot of farmers last year had a hard time finding people to help with labor.”

Market fluctuations have also come into play.

“Back when this was legalized, you know, two years ago, a year and a half ago, the price was around $20 a pound, so it was worth it for a lot of people to go into it,” Westmoreland said. “Since the market was saturated with growers across the nation growing for CBD, the price has gone down to about $5 a pound.”

Another struggle Utah growers encountered was a small market for production of CBD oil and other hemp products.

“A lot of growers are still sitting on that crop from last year,” Westmoreland said. “They haven’t been able to find a processor to take their biomass, and so they’re still sitting on it, either waiting to get a better price or just waiting for somebody to take it at all. So there’s sort of a mismatch between people who can actually buy the hemp flower and people who are producing it.”

Another grad student at USU is hoping to study the flower produced through Bugbee and Westmoreland’s research for CBD and THC degradation over time to see if that kind of behavior can be profitable for farmers who don’t immediately sell.

Content from: https://www.sltrib.com/news/nation-world/2020/08/03/utah-state-researchers/.

Tennessee Hemp Growers Get Another Year to Transition to Federal Program

NASHVILLE – Hemp growers in Tennessee will have more time to adjust to federal Domestic Hemp Program guidelines. The program was scheduled to take effect this year, but the United States Congress extended the current industrial hemp pilot program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill through September 30, 2021.

Tennessee will continue to operate its hemp licensing and inspection programs under the 2014 Farm Bill.

“This extension will give hemp growers more time to transition to new program guidelines and to better understand federal expectations,” Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Tennessee was on the forefront in providing a framework for producers to grow hemp and we see hemp as an emerging opportunity for growers and processors. We will continue to support this expanding industry and are committed to contributing to its success.”

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) 2021 hemp plan was approved by the USDA earlier this year, positioning the department to implement new federal standards. The delay allows TDA to fine-tune laboratory operations, inspection procedures, and sampling processes before transitioning to the federal program next year.

When the new federal standards go into effect next year, every hemp variety in every growing area must be tested for THC within 15 days of harvest rather than 30 days. Samples collected will be tested for total THC rather than delta-9 THC. Growers will be required to receive lot numbers from the USDA Farm Services Agency under the new program.

Tennessee has 1,800 hemp growers licensed to plant as much as 16,000 acres of hemp. TDA accepts applications to grow hemp year-round, with permits expiring June 30 of every year. For more information about hemp in Tennessee, visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/hemp-industry.html

Content from: https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/news/2020/10/15/tennessee-hemp-growers-get-another-year-to-transition-to-federal-program.html.

Polis’ CHAMP Report provides roadmap for future of hemp in Colorado

Polis announces CHAMP hemp report

DENVER, Colo.  – Governor Jared Polis, in partnership with Colorado State University, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Division of Regulatory Agencies, and Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, is pleased to announce today’s release of the Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan (CHAMP) report.

Polis states, “Colorado is a clear national leader for industrial hemp, and the CHAMP report will serve as a key tool to further our leadership. We want Colorado to continue to be the best state for industrial hemp which will help our rural communities thrive. The report also identifies key initiatives that Colorado can share with other states to standardize the hemp industry across the country. I’m particularly proud that this project brought many voices to the table from across the state to combine their expertise and knowledge, and to hear from others in the sector about common pain points and opportunities.”

The CHAMP Initiative will be used as a blueprint for Colorado state and local agencies, in partnership with higher education and industry, to implement some of these large-scale initiatives to advance and manage this new industry. This includes promoting research and development in seed genetics and cultivation, developing and advocating increased industrial processing and uses, privatizing laboratory testing, and increasing access to financial and insurance resources.

Eighteen months in the making, the CHAMP report is the result of a rigorous and collaborative stakeholder-based initiative that brought together top subject matter experts from the hemp industry, higher education, and regulatory fields to explore important questions regarding the economic advancement and regulatory management of the hemp industry in Colorado. Stakeholders were part of guided discussions that provided important perspectives and recommendations on a number of critical issues at every stop on the hemp supply chain. Resulting in a comprehensive, informed roadmap on how to further advance Colorado’s hemp industry.

The CHAMP process has already begun to effect change beyond a local level. The 2018 farm bill essentially allowed for the legal cultivation of hemp under the regulatory authority of the United States Department of Agriculture. Based on numerous CHAMP discussions with stakeholders, Colorado provided written comments to the USDA that effectively changed the federal regulations to provide more appropriate and sensible oversight of this new emerging agricultural crop, including the allowance for the remediation of non-compliant plants into complaint plant biomass to help farmers mitigate against financial loss.

CSU’s College of Ag Sciences and Regional Economic Development Institute will continue to partner with USDA, CDA and various communities across the state to provide applied research, technical assistance, economic development guidance and education motivated by what was learned from the CHAMP project.

Content from: https://www.kjct8.com/2021/03/27/polis-champ-report-provides-roadmap-for-future-of-hemp-in-colorado/.

Vote Hemp releases 2020 Hemp Crop Report

2020 Hemp Crop ReportWashington, DC – Vote Hemp has released its 2020 Hemp Crop Report documenting the state regulated cultivation of hemp in the United States. Vote Hemp has been producing the Hemp Crop Report since 2016 and the 2020 growing season marks the first time that there has been a decrease in licenses and acreage. Going into the 2020 season, there were 49 states that had passed laws authorizing hemp farming and 46 of those have regulatory policies or plans to allow hemp to be grown.

Vote Hemp. contacted all 46 states to request data and received responses from 34 including top hemp markets of Colorado, Kentucky, Montana and Oregon as well as a number of newcomers. The 2020 report is being released at the NoCo Expo and via the Vote Hemp web site.