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.

Hemp enters its second season in Wyoming

A hemp crop west of Powell was grown during the first season for the plant in the state. The harvest was late in the fall.

A hemp crop west of Powell was grown during the first season for the plant in the state. The harvest was late in the fall.

Powell, WY – Wyoming will be entering its second season in which the state is issuing licenses to hemp producers and processors. 

The crop is still highly regulated and remains in a niche market. That means there aren’t a lot of farmers trying it, and those that are endure a lot of trial and error. 

Mother’s Hemp Farms owner Dave Tenhulzen said he planted 144 acres of hemp at two sites last year: one near Deaver and another just outside of Powell. The approximately 30 acres that were harvested near Powell produced about 90 tons of raw hemp.

However, the larger field near Deaver was a total loss as it tested “hot,” as they say in hemp lingo — meaning it came in over the maximum 0.3% THC limit. THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant and when the compound is present in hemp in higher quantities, the crop is treated as if it is marijuana and must be destroyed.

Last year, 28% of the hemp samples that were collected from across the state and tested by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture came in too hot. Derek Grant, spokesman for the ag department, said that figure is just an estimate, as some indoor growers are still submitting their samples for testing. 

Wes Brown, ag program coordinator with the department, said the estimated number wasn’t too bad, all things considered.  

“For the first year, I thought it was pretty good,” Brown said during an online hemp workshop in January. 

In 2020, the state issued 28 licenses to grow hemp, which encompassed 1,058 acres of field production and 18,150 square feet of greenhouse production. 

From the field production, 873 acres were planted and 788 acres harvested. 

Jeremiah Vardiman, agriculture and horticulture extension educator for the University of Wyoming Extension, called last year’s outcomes a mixed bag. 

“It sounded for the most part that [the season] was fairly successful, across the state,” Vardiman said, “but it’s still pretty small scale.”

Vardiman agrees with Brown that the 28% fail rate on the state’s sample tests wasn’t too bad and demonstrates some potential to produce the crop within the limits the state requires, which follow those of the USDA. 

“There is some hope out there,” the educator said. 

Vardiman said the real driver of the hemp industry is going to be the markets, which are still trying to get a foothold. If the processor has a buyer for the product, then the producer will have a buyer for the produce. At that point, Vardiman said interest will grow.

“It’s going to take a while to develop and become solid,” he said. 

Vardiman added that the fiber processing, which would go into a variety of construction and textiles really has no market at this time, but food and CBD do have improving processing capacity. 

“We’ve made a step in that direction,” Vardiman said. 

He said producers who risked the uncharted hemp waters last season were testing varieties, which is important. Identifying the varieties that stay below the 0.3% THC threshold will make the farmers’ crops more successful. 

One question that remains is how much the market can bear and whether Wyoming can compete in that market. 

“That’s the driver for all crops. The reality of it, here in Wyoming, we’re at that mercy. And so if we can have a market to sell into, we have a successful crop venture,” Vardiman said. 

Grant said it’s too early to tell if the state will see a growth in applicants. Renewals are typically submitted in December — though they can come in at any time — but new applicants usually start submitting theirs in spring. 

It takes about a week or two for the paperwork to be processed, depending on the amount of documentation involved. The application process, Grant said, is the same this year as last. However, he said there could be changes at the USDA level, which would result in changes to Wyoming’s process.

Legalizing hemp flower could net big money; police say upholding laws would be impossible

Legalizing hemp flower could open the door to a new market for Hoosier farmers and bring millions of dollars in revenue to Indiana. But prosecutors and police are worried doing so would take away one of their crucial tools for enforcing the state’s marijuana laws.

Hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis plant and differ only by their level of THC, the chemical that makes marijuana users high. If a cannabis plant has 0.3% THC or lower, it’s legally considered hemp. Any higher, it’s marijuana. Otherwise, the two plants look and smell exactly the same.

That’s a problem for police.

If hemp flower were legalized in Indiana, police say it would make it impossible for law enforcement officers to tell if the substance is legal or illegal, creating issues when it comes to plausible suspicion for drug arrests.

A quick roadside test that could help officers tell if a bud is marijuana or hemp was recently developed out of Purdue University, but it’s in its early stages, and prosecutors say it won’t hold up in court.

The Indiana State Police declined to comment to IndyStar about this issue, but a representative spoke on the subject during an Indiana House committee hearing last month.

“These laws cannot be taken away because at the current time they are crucially important in upholding our current criminal system,” he said. “We cannot differentiate (hemp) from marijuana. You take that away, you take away the one substantive tool we have today to uphold our marijuana laws.”

But legalizing hemp flower would not only be a boon for Hoosier farmers, those in the industry say, it would also put Indiana on the same playing field as at least 39 other states where it is already lawful.

Other hemp products are legal in Indiana, but hemp flower holds the highest concentration of cannabinoids used to make CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical in cannabis used for relieving pain, anxiety, insomnia and other health issues. Currently, the flower has to be processed into other products first, such as oil or gummies, to be sold.

“The flower is the most lucrative part of the plant. There is a strong demand for it,” said state Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, who has filed House Bill 1224 to legalize hemp flower. “This bill will legalize it, and allow our farmers and retailers and our consumers to use and grow that product.”

Hemp flower is federally legal, and contains no higher percentages of THC than other hemp products do. When smoked, it provides fast delivery of CBD.

“Really, all we’re talking about is another delivery method of CBD to the body,” said Justin Swanson, president of the Midwest Hemp Council. “All we’re trying to do is open this market up to the farmers, to give them confidence to explore the market.”

Three bills that would legalize hemp flower were filed this year at the Indiana General Assembly, but only HB 1224 has gained traction. A committee voted in favor of the bill and it is now pending in the House.

‘We don’t need to be scared’

While hemp contains some levels of THC, it is unlikely to get you high. Hemp products are capped at 0.3% THC, while marijuana products range from 5% to 20%.

Even so, it was federally illegal to grow and use until former President Donald Trump signed the 2018 farm bill. In Indiana, a “sweet spot” for hemp growing because of the climate and soil, farmers were already growing hemp under a 2014 rule that allowed institutions to grow the crop for research.

A year later, however, Indiana lawmakers banned hemp flower.

That upset growers and others in the industry, who point out that hemp flower is the part of the plant with the most potential for farmers to make a profit.

“If the largest concentration of CBD is in a part of the plant that you’re not allowed to use, that’s certainly a barrier to the economics of growing it and producing it,” said Rep. Justin Moed, D-Indianapolis, a co-author of HB 1224.

Joe Linne, a former hemp farmer and owner of retailer Hoosier Hempster, said it frustrates him that although hemp flower is held to the same 0.3% THC standard as other hemp products, it is illegal to sell.

“How can you really take one part of the hemp plant and make it illegal?” said Linne, also a small business advisor for the Indiana Small Business Development Center. “We don’t need to be scared of something that’s already been out helping people and helping the economic growth of their state.”

Hemp flower is the easiest way for farmers to enter the hemp market with the least amount of overhead costs, Swanson said.

Currently, farmers have to sell their hemp crop to a processor to be converted into CBD oil. The associated costs mean they sometimes get around 50 cents per pound for that crop. On the other hand, selling hemp flower directly can earn a farmer as much as $250 per pound.

Adam Gilliatte, owner of hemp genetics company Half Moon Hemp, said Indiana’s ban on smokable hemp flower puts Hoosier farmers at a disadvantage compared to those in other states.

“We’re getting to the point where the farmers don’t want to grow, because they’re not going to make the money versus what they can make in Illinois or Michigan,” Gilliatte said. “We’ve essentially killed an industry that was once looked at as a next opportunity for a farmer.”

Even so, the hemp market is growing in Indiana.

In 2019, the Indiana Office of the State Chemist registered 5,300 acres in Indiana. Last year, thatjumped to almost 9,000. In the same time frame, the square footage of indoor growers grew from 500,000 to 1.7 million.

That growth shows potential for millions of dollars in revenue for the state, Linne said.

In his calculations as director of the hemp council’s economic task force, he predicts hemp flower could bring in $14 million in gross revenue yearly just from farmers selling their product. If that product were sold at a markup on a retail level, that could be far higher — as high as $130 million.

“It’ll kind of blow you away,” Linne said, “the economic impact that it could bring to farmers.”

Law enforcement concerns

State police are worried legalizing hemp flower would take away what they say is a valuable tool in enforcing marijuana law: the presumption that the presence of a cannabis flower is a crime.

Currently, police have the right to arrest anybody who has marijuana or hemp flower, because both are banned. But if one is legalized, police won’t be able to tell whether a bud is legal or illegal.

In HB 1224’s hearing last month, a Purdue University researcher presented a new test that would allow law enforcement officers to tell if a flower is from marijuana or hemp in fewer than two minutes. Much like a breathalyzer, the test is designed to be easy for police officers to use roadside.

But the test is still new, prosecutors say, and it’s not going to hold up in court.

Dave Powell, senior counsel for the Indiana Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, saidduring the hearing that tests like these typically go through years of process before courts will allow them as evidence. He warned it may not be considered a viable law enforcement tool for some time.

“I don’t know of any court in the country that’s recognized (a test like this) as being admissible,” Powell said.

In a statement from the prosecutors association, a spokesperson said the group has additional concerns about HB 1224. These include that the bill would strip regulatory powers from the Indiana Seed Commissioner over hemp processors and handlers, and hamper the state’s ability to control hemp distribution.

The group also said this bill would remove the ability for law enforcement to protect Hoosiers from illegal hemp, or hemp over the 0.3% THC cap.

An amendment added last week may assuage some concerns about marijuana law enforcement. Under the new changes, hemp flower would be treated like an open container. This means if you want to transport hemp as a consumer, you’d need that container as evidence that the flower is not marijuana.

“It’s just another step to ensure that what the consumer has is hemp and not marijuana,” Eberhart said. “The state police are not going to support the bill even with that change. But we thought it was a better bill with the amendment.”

HB 1224 now awaits a vote before the full House. If approved, it would then move to the Senate for a committee hearing.

Content retrieved from: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/environment/2021/02/16/hemp-industry-sees-big-money-hemp-flower-police-marijuana-concerns/4251888001/.

Indiana InDepth: Indiana’s hemp industry going through growing pains

Indiana InDepth: Indiana's hemp industry going through growing pains

Submitted photo: Ben Hartman, owner of Clay Bottom Farm, an urban micro-farm in Goshen, poses with a CBD oil tincture created from his 2019 hemp crop.

While admittedly still in its infancy, Ben Hartman sees Indiana as well positioned to become a national leader in the burgeoning hemp production industry.

Owner of Clay Bottom Farm, an urban micro-farm located on the city’s north side, Hartman counts himself among the first Hoosier farmers to jump on the hemp bandwagon following passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. That bill legalized industrial hemp production in the U.S.

“We first got our hemp license in 2019, and we grew hemp here at the farm in 2019. This would be what’s considered high-CBD hemp. So, it’s not fiber hemp. It’s the hemp that’s grown for CBD extraction,” Hartman said. “And to make a long story short, it was a huge learning curve, a lot of fun, and overall a success in that we produced several quarts of CBD crude oil out of which we’ve been able to make, and brand, and market CBD tinctures. And we sell those CBD tinctures under the Clay Bottom Farm name through the Maple City Market in Goshen. We’re actually the only local source of that product.”

And according to Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Hartman was by no means alone in entering the hemp market. The latest available data indicates that more than 8,700 acres of hemp were grown outdoors in Indiana in 2019, while another 1.74 million square feet were grown indoors that same year. He noted that 2020’s numbers will not be released until this spring.

Not Marijuana

Hemp, marijuana’s non-psychedelic cousin, includes numerous crop varieties that in turn can be used for the production of multiple products, including CBD oil, food grade oil, grain and hemp fiber. Under current legislation, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the plant compound most commonly associated with getting a person high.

According to The Brookings Institution, federal law for decades did not differentiate hemp from other cannabis plants, all of which were effectively made illegal in 1937 under the Marijuana Tax Act and formally made illegal in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act.

That began to change with passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which reintroduced hemp production to the U.S. farming industry, though that legislation limited the distribution of hemp licenses to a small number of farmers, and growth was restricted to small-scale pilot programs aimed at studying market interest in hemp-derived products.

With passage of the more expansive 2018 Farm Bill four years later, the Office of the Indiana State Chemist, the regulatory body that oversees the state’s hemp program, was cleared to began large-scale distribution of licenses to Hoosier farmers, though they still needed a research proposal and to be associated with a university researcher in order to apply for a license.

“We had quite a bit of growth the last two years, so 2019 and 2020, when we were still in the research phase,” said Don Robison, feed administrator and hemp regulator with the OISC. “What we showed both of those years, though, was a lot of interest, a lot of licensing, a lot of registered acres, but a whole lot less actually planted than what was registered, and I attribute that to a lack of great (seed) sources.

“There are some good sources for plant material and seed, but — and I hate to say it this way — it’s still a little bit of the wild, wild west out there right now,” Robison added. “It’s a new industry, and even good folks that are trying to do the right thing, if they accept too many orders, or they can’t get their plant material to the quality it needs to get to, stuff like that can come back to bite them.”

Speaking to challenges within the industry, Marguerite Bolt, hemp extension specialist with the Purdue University Department of Agronomy, noted that one of the biggest challenges currently facing Indiana’s hemp industry is simply the fact that it is so young.

“This industry in particular just seems to be somewhat volatile, you know, because it’s developing. That’s probably one of the biggest factors, is it’s just very new, and we’re trying to understand where the market is going to go, what consumer demand is, etc. It just gets pretty complicated,” Bolt said. “And then, of course, regulatory changes make it an even more challenging plant to work with, because it seems like things are constantly changing when we look at rules and regulations.

“And for these growers, they have a lot on their plates already, and they’re trying to navigate this industry, and figure out who is buying, who is selling, what the potential looks like for them, etc.,” she added of the issue. “With these constant changes, I think, if I were a grower, it’s a huge deterrent.”

Overproduction

Robison pointed to oversupply and profitability — particularly in the area of CBD production — as another major challenge facing the state’s hemp industry.

“As far as acres of hemp production, CBD is by far the majority, accounting for probably about 85% of the total number of acres being planted,” Robison said. “That’s going to eventually have to change for profitability to really come into the market, because that’s where all of the oversupply is.

“The first people into the industry were making obscene amounts of money, and so that’s what got everybody involved in it, what got everybody interested,” Robison added. “That in turn resulted in a lot of non-farmers getting involved, people who didn’t have any farming experience, and now they’re having their own issues kind of learning how plants work with soil and fertilizer, that type of thing.”

Kettler agreed.

“I think we saw a lot of people who jumped into this really big, and the seed is expensive. It’s a new crop. So, we’ve got to learn how to grow it, we’ve got to understand the pests that can affect it, etc. So, it’s one of those things that I would encourage people not to jump into too hard, just because of the fact that they could lose a lot of money,” Kettler said. “All that is to say, what we are encouraging people to do is, make sure you have a contract for the outlet of your production before you plant. If you’re producing for CBD, for example, get a contract with somebody that’s going to process it for CBD. And the same is true if it’s being grown for fiber, etc. Make sure you have a contract in place that allows you to know you’ve got a way to take that production and do something with it, and market it, so that you’re protected a little bit.”

Still growing

Looking forward to the 2021 growing season and beyond, Robison is predicting continued growth within the state’s hemp industry, though likely at a less fervent and ultimately more manageable pace than had been seen in the crop’s 2019 and 2020 seasons.

A big reason for that prediction, he said, is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent decision to approve the Indiana State Hemp Plan for commercially growing and processing hemp.

According to Robison, the new plan, approved by the USDA in October 2020, takes OISC’s pilot hemp program and transitions it to a commercial hemp production program, granting the OISC greater regulatory authority and the ability to clearly define the rules and regulations around hemp production and processing in Indiana.

Under the plan, Indiana farmers are no longer required to have a research component to be licensed. In addition, farmers are now eligible to include hemp in crop insurance, which gives them a bit more stability when it comes to the potential risks of growing the new crop.

However, in a change from free licenses in past years, those seeking licenses for the 2021 growing season will be charged a $750 application fee for either handlers or growers, or $1,500 for both.

While the primary goal of the new fee is to help the OISC cover its expenses connected to administering the state’s hemp program, which it is required to do under state statute, Robison said he also anticipates the fee could help curb some of the oversupply issues the state saw during the 2019 and 2020 growing seasons.

“And it looks like those that are licensing for 2021, so far those acres of production are way down for 2021. So, what that tells me is, the growers are realizing that there’s oversupply. They’re trying to grow one acre instead of five, or, if they’re growing fiber or for seed oil or for grain, they’re growing 10 acres instead of 20 or 30,” he added. “So, we’re seeing those kinds of positive growth signs amidst the negative of low prices, oversupply and some questionable suppliers. We’re starting to see the market shake out a little bit, which is a really good sign.”

The future

As for what Indiana’s hemp industry might look like in another five to 10 years, Robison said he anticipates what will likely be a gradual shift away from the current dominance of CBD production to an industry more focused on hemp grain and fiber production.

“I anticipate, and I hope, that Indiana’s market moves away from so many acres of CBD, just because of the oversupply problem, and moves instead toward grain and fiber,” Robison said. “Indiana’s growers already have the necessary equipment, and they’ve already got ways to process fiber and grain. So, I think that’s the place we’re going to settle in. There will still be CBD suppliers, but I think there will be many less CBD suppliers in five to 10 years than there are now.”

Bolt also noted that she anticipates hemp will always remain a niche crop in Indiana, rather than completely replacing the more traditional crops, such as corn and soybeans.

“At the university, and I think in the industry as a whole, a lot of us are trying to promote hemp as a diversification tool. So, not looking at it as, ‘I’m going to switch my farm to a hemp-only farm.’ We’d rather see, ‘how can I fit hemp into my current operation so I have more diversification,’ which economically is a good thing,” Bolt said. “It also provides some security, where if you have a crop failure one year, you’re not only relying on that specific crop. You have multiple rotations, fields planted in other crops, etc. So, that has kind of been my perspective as well. Basically, figure out how it fits into your system, and don’t do a complete overhaul just to grow hemp. Make it work for you.”

While only time will tell what the state’s dominant hemp crop will eventually end up looking like, Hartman said he’s confident that hemp production will continue in Indiana.

“It will definitely always be a niche crop, but it’s definitely here to stay, too. I don’t see the laws becoming more regressive. I see them opening up, especially as people become more familiar with the plant, and learn new ways to grow it that are safe and legal,” Hartman said, noting that while Clay Bottom Farm’s existing CBD oil supply should last him through the remainder of this year, he does plan on planting another hemp crop in 2022. “Indiana is actually ideally situated in terms of climate. Our climate is just ideal, and our soils are ideal for hemp production, too. So, I can see Indiana as being a real leader in hemp production.”

Aaron Rink, a fellow Goshen farmer and former partner with a large hemp farm operation in the Millersburg/New Paris area, is also optimistic about the future of hemp.

“I would say Indiana definitely has a future with hemp,” said Rink, who, while having exited the hemp production industry back in early 2020 due to personal reasons, is still a big supporter of the crop. “I know that the CBD oil market has peaked … but I still think there is a future and a market for hemp, particularly on the fiber side. What all can be raised fiber-wise, and what can be done with it, I still think there are things that haven’t even been invented yet that are going to require hemp. So, I think that’s pretty cool.”

Content retrieved from: https://www.tribstar.com/news/indiana_news/indiana-indepth-indianas-hemp-industry-going-through-growing-pains/article_fc2a73cc-998b-5e36-b97f-f872ae1546b5.html.

Hurdles still remain for rooting North Florida’s hemp industry

The first year of Florida’s hemp industry was one of trial and error on the ground, but the projections that it will become a green boom could mean a shift in the Panhandle’s agricultural scene.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said the first 8 months of cultivation since the state developed its program is only expected to get larger heading into 2021.

This year, the state approved 22,000 acres for hemp – the same acreage as tomatoes, watermelon and snap peas, and double the production of strawberries – but in the next 3-5 years it could balloon to 300,000 acres, or half of the land used to grow Florida citrus.

With tourism down in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and agricultural losses projected at $500 million, hemp could be revolutionary for the state’s economy.

That’s coming as “our economy needs it most, due to COVID-19,” she said during a meeting of Enterprise Florida in early December.

“We are on the verge of a green industrial revolution here in the state of Florida with potential of billions of dollars in economic impact, tens of thousands of new jobs and potential new products in the marketplace,” she added.

Estimates put the total economic output in the first year somewhere around $500 million and more than $17 million in tax revenue.

Fried said hemp is being used in roads and houses are being built already using “hempcrete.” It’s an alternative to plastics and is used in the health and wellness industries.

With the going price for harvested hemp projected to be around $5,250 per acre, Fried said she expected acreage and sales to continue to grow.

North Florida is uniquely positioned to become a hemp fiber mecca with eager farmers and plenty of agricultural land. The more than a dozen counties in the region, from Levy to Gulf counties, represent roughly 2,125 acres in cultivation permits issued by the state.

Hemp has become a top-of-the-funnel issue for the Apalachee Regional Planning Council (ARPC), which is eying it as a possible way for silviculture, or tree farmers, to rebound from the devastation that leveled thousands of acres of pine trees and to attract a new industry.

ARPC represents nine counties from Jefferson west to Gulf County.

Jackson County Commission Chairman and ARPC executive committee treasurer Jim Peacock said there is a lot of interest in hemp as a rotational crop in his part of the state, about an hour west of Tallahassee.

As much as 68% of the economy in that rural county is rooted in agriculture with most farmers growing peanuts, cotton, soybeans and corn. But the return on investment leaves farmers working harder to make their crops earn money.

“If we can come up with a crop that is profitable for them in their rotation, it would be a great thing and keep the farmer going,” Peacock said. “If they can make $1,000 an acre (in a harvest), they would be happy. They have to work hard to get close to that with peanuts and cotton.”

Peacock said the county is open to offering free land to a processor, a handful of which have already approached the county about locating there – noting that the state transferred the Dozier School property over to the county in 2018 – but until planting starts and a processor arrives, the hemp industry may not take off.

He said there are a lot of farmers lined up ready to start planting but there is some hesitancy because of two issues:

  • A requirement that the plants test lower than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive chemical that produces a high in hemp’s cousin marijuana, or be destroyed.
  • The lack of a nearby processing facility where the fibers can be made into industrial products.

He proposed some mechanism that would funnel hemp that tests above the regulation to go to industrial uses instead of to consumers in the form of CBD products.

“We’ve got the land; we’ve got people that could plant 1,000 acres, but they don’t want to put the money and time into it until we get the issue of THC resolved,” Peacock said.

He added: “I don’t see why you couldn’t do it because who is going to eat a concrete block?” referring to hempcrete.

Jeff Sharkey, a Tallahassee-based lobbyist and executive director of the Florida Hemp Association, said there was an oversaturation in the national hemp market in 2019 after Congress decriminalized hemp the previous year.

Sharkey was an organizer of the 850 Hemp Summit last year that looked to plot a path forward for the industry in North Florida.

Now that the market has somewhat stabilized, the push this year was to find strains that grew well in Florida and remained below the THC limits so they would be appealing to growers and their investment in a crop.

It caused some farmers not to plant out the full acreage they were approved for.

“Most people said, ‘let me test this out. I’ve got a permit for 10 acres but I’m only going to grow an acre or two and see how it goes,’ which is smart,” he said. “That was part of the message from the 850 Summit: This is new, it’s going to take a while to grow and mature.”

With the industry’s boom, Sharkey said, came a number of out-of-state seed brokers who provided little oversight and falsely claimed their seeds were certified by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies, which certifies agricultural seeds of all types.

Both Florida A&M University and the University of Florida have launched seed genetics programs where they look to find the right strains for the Sunshine State that are resistant to pests and enjoy the sandy soil.

That includes a focus on getting a certifiable seed stock, part of a push from state lawmakers like former Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, and Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, who worked through the rulemaking process.

“There’s been a lot of disappointing results from seeds,” Sharkey said. “Out of 24 seeds grown with FAMU, only four were approved.”

Seeds go for about $1 a piece and the hope is that more people will look to hemp for fiber instead of just the CBD market, where the perception is that there is a huge demand. Currently, no one in Florida is growing hemp for fiber, Sharkey said.

“The process for taking hemp fiber is very different and expensive and the extraction processing technology is hard to come by,” he said. “That is where a lot of people believe Florida’s competitive edge may be: growing for fiber.”

A virtual conference is planned for February to recount the first year of Florida’s hemp market and plan for the future.

Incoming ARPC Chairwoman and Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier said the North Florida industrial hemp market did not get the traction in 2020 anticipated during the 850 Hemp Summit last year.

The hesitancy of insurance and banking markets to get involved with hemp or back hemp farmers, a residual connection to marijuana remaining a scheduled drug at the federal level, remain hurdles to be overcome.

But with more focus on the industry in Florida, this may be the year when all the pieces come together, she said.

The major issue is attracting a processor and finding out what markets exist to make it viable for local farmers to grow and sell.

“Even without COVID, this would have been a year of learning and continued research on what types of seeds would grow in our region and some of these other regulatory issues that pose an issue for our farmers,” she said.

“The response from people throughout North Florida was incredible and we want to keep our focus on this issue. It is an industry that can work well in North Florida with our existing agriculture and existing communities.”

The 2021 Florida Virtual Hemp Conference will be held Monday, Feb. 22.

Content from: https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2020/12/19/hurdles-still-remain-rooting-north-floridas-hemp-industry/3961816001/.