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

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(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/.

Washington hemp industry grows, but not as fast as Oregon’s

Washington state hemp farm

The number of licensed hemp farmers in Washington has more than doubled since May, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

As of Tuesday the department had issued licenses to 87 growers, compared to 35 in late May. The state has issued another 18 licenses to processors. Many farmers have combination licenses to grow and process hemp.

The department is reviewing about 30 more applications and expects to eventually issue approximately 150 hemp-related licenses this year, spokesman Chris McGann said.

Washington’s hemp industry is still small compared to several states, including Oregon. The growth, however, firms up a once-shaky program. Washington’s hemp crop last year was 140 acres cultivated by the Colville tribe in northeast Washington.

This year, farmers have registered to plant 6,700 acres, not counting greenhouses. Several large Eastern Washington farms have obtained hemp licenses.

McGann said the department anticipates the hemp program will become self-supporting. Lawmakers this spring sent the department $212,000 to avoid massive increases in license fees paid by farmers.

“We don’t expect to have to go back to the Legislature,” McGann said. “All expectations are, yes, it will be sustainable.”

The 2018 Farm Bill took hemp off the federally controlled substance list. The federal government still requires states to license and inspect hemp farms.

Oregon has added 300 licensed hemp farmers in the past seven weeks and now has 1,642, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Farmers have registered to plant 53,573, almost a fivefold increase over last year when the state licensed 584 growers.

The USDA is expected to propose national hemp regulations in the fall. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said after touring a Kentucky hemp farm July 2 that the crop’s connection with marijuana has not been entirely severed yet.

“I think what I heard was a lot of opportunity, but a lot of challenges needing a federal framework to help guide the progress of this crop,” he said. “We heard about financial transaction issues where this crop is conflated with its illegal cousin in many states.”

Industrial Hemp Association of Washington lobbyist Bonny Jo Peterson said the state’s first full-fledged hemp season has been marked by “mishaps and hiccups” as farms try to find the right seeds and equipment.

“I think too many farmers went too big, too quick,” she said. “There’s going to be a lot of trial and expense and unfortunately a lot of lost crop.

“If you’re not ready to go now, wait until next year. Learn from other people’s experiences.”

Peterson said farmers who plan carefully will be in better position to survive if the CBD oil boom busts. CBD oil is marketed for a wide variety of ailments. The Food and Drug Administration is examining claims about the extract’s benefits.

Washington collects an annual $450 application fee from hemp farmers, plus $300 for a one-year license. Farmers must pay another $200 for each additional field, plus testing fees.

The Washington Department of Revenue has said it will tax hemp like any other agricultural product. Hemp growers are eligible for tax breaks available to other farmers, according to the department.

Content from: https://www.capitalpress.com/ag_sectors/livestock/washington-hemp-industry-grows-but-not-as-fast-as-oregon/article_29497a82-a27b-11e9-aeb3-df13163157ae.html.

NC lawmakers want to ban smokable hemp, but farmers got a ‘win’ Wednesday

North Carolina hemp smokable hempFarmers may get to grow and sell smokable hemp for another year.

A legislative committee on Wednesday endorsed changes to the Farm Act, a bill intended to regulate the hemp industry, that would ban smokable hemp in late 2020.

The proposed ban isn’t ideal for hemp advocates. But lawmakers viewed it as a compromise between farmers who want to legalize hemp indefinitely and law enforcement officers who want to ban it immediately.

Taylon Breeden, who works for the Simply Extract hemp oil company near Asheville, said she was encouraged by Wednesday’s vote. She became a hemp activist after she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which affects digestion.

The previously proposed 2019 ban would be “devastating,” for farmers, Breednen said. “This was a win for us,” Breeden said. “We didn’t think that this would be the case at all.”

The bill, passed by the Senate earlier this year, still needs approval from the House and Gov. Roy Cooper to become law.

North Carolina loosened its hemp laws in 2015. After state Sen. Brent Jackson of Sampson County proposed the Farm Act to expand the industry even further, law enforcement groups spoke out against the spread of hemp flower.

Hemp looks and smells like marijuana — it’s green and has a skunky odor — but it can’t get users high because it has only a small amount of the chemical THC. Prosecutors and cops say the similarities between the plants complicate drug investigations.

Their position was emphasized in Wednesday’s meeting when Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, a Democrat, said local police were recently able to arrest a felon with a firearm after smelling the marijuana odor from his car.

“This is a public safety concern,” she said.

Until Wednesday, the bill included an amendment to ban smokable hemp this December. The proposed December 2020 ban gives lawmakers another year to find a kit that can help police test for THC in hemp.

The bill had been stalled for a few weeks. But it advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday after a change in position by Rep. Jimmy Dixon, a Republican from Duplin County.

Dixon previously said the legislature was putting the “cart before the horse” for approving smokable hemp before law enforcement agencies adopted a cheap, reliable method for testing for THC. He previously proposed a ban starting Dec. 1, 2019.

But Wednesday, Dixon stood next to Jackson in the committee and asked committee members to support a ban starting in December 2020.

“There’s not yet been a bill proposed in this committee or any other committee that would solve law enforcement’s concerns. The General Assembly does not have the ability to do that,” Dixon said. “This is ultimately going to be resolved in the courts.”

It’s unclear whether the full House will support the proposal from Dixon and Jackson, both Republicans.

State Rep. Allen McNeill, a Randolph County Republican, said he’d support the bill Wednesday to advance it out of the committee. But he said he’s not sure if he’ll vote for it on the House floor.

State Rep. Brandon Lofton, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County, pointed out that the reverting the bill to Jackson’s version would undo amendments adopted in other House committees.

Dixon suggested that Lofton shouldn’t tie his hopes to one version of any bill.

Content from: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233074152.html.

Oregon hemp farmers seek stable marketplace

Oregon hemp farmerThe Oregon hemp industry is booming, but still faces an uncertain future.

A lack of consistent testing policies, outdated U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation and rules, and problems with banking were some of the issues behind the urgent tone at a recent Oregon hemp farmer roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden at the University of Oregon Downtown Innovation Hub.

Farmers sat alongside industry lobbyists, scientists, professors, designers, producers and Oregon Department of Agriculture officials, expressing their concerns for the future of the industrial hemp business and crop. Despite the uncertainty, Wyden said the level of commitment from industry professionals makes Oregon the perfect state to lead the industry.

“We’ve got it all right around this table,” the Oregon Democrat said during the early July roundtable. “We’ve got essentially the modern leadership to tap the incredible potential for hemp growth in Oregon. And Oregon, as is our tradition, can be a trailblazer with addressing these issues.”

Need for clear regulations, testing

In 2018, Wyden led the charge to legalize hemp with legislation in the 2018 Farm Bill. Wyden’s work alongside Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it possible for the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 to become a bipartisan piece of legislation included in the final bill that passed in December.

The bill defined hemp as an agricultural commodity and ultimately removed it from the controlled substance list. The legislation allows for interstate commerce and crop insurance. States are federally required to regulate and inspect hemp farms, but the act gives them the ability to be the primary regulators of hemp production.

Because hemp is now labeled as an agricultural commodity, the USDA is in charge of regulating it instead of the U.S. Department of Justice. Unfortunately, the USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not issued updated policies and regulations hemp industry professionals need. These regulations would determine testing and production specifications the industry abides by. Without them, farmers risk losing thousands of dollars because their current crops may not be in compliance.

The lack of industry standards is what Liz Gale, farmer and owner of Living Harvest Farm LLC in Dallas, Ore., said made the roundtable meeting extremely important because farmers need to know what’s going on.

“Things change all the time,” Gale said. “The plants that I have in the ground right now, what’s all decided around these tables, is going to determine whether I can sell it or not at the end of the year.”

Gale said she’s grown medicinal and recreational crops in the past but hemp creates new opportunities. For Gale, a mother of two sons, hemp farming is a family business.

“If you can sustain your family, and generationally have family farms with hemp crops, that’s where I think hemp will change America,”  she said.

Unfortunately, the industry needs to cut through red tape before it can change much of anything. A big part of the issue comes down to testing the plants and defining THC.

While marijuana and hemp are cannabis plants, hemp has a low THC concentration. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the concentrated psychoactive chemical in marijuana that makes users feel high. The Oregon Department of Agriculture issued rules saying that hemp can’t contain more than 0.3% total THC.

Total THC is the sum of delta-9 THC and THCA, an acidic cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Different testing methods at different labs may impact how the substances are measured and reported. According to Sunny Summers, Cannabis Policy Coordinator for ODA, the language in the farm bill isn’t clear.

“Testing consistency is a big concern and struggle for the industry,” Summers said. “I want hemp to be hemp in Oregon, in Kentucky, or whatever state it was grown in. I want it to be the same.”

Sean Beeman, co-founder of Genesis Pharms, is concerned that with testing issues, the booming industry that is Oregon hemp will come to a halt by harvest time. Beeman is most concerned about the increase in growers with little to no experience.

“Every grower I know or meet, both cannabis and hemp, are just too excited lately,” Beeman said. “There are too many people who think they can use their ag experience to make money. The reality is, just because you can farm corn, doesn’t mean you can farm hemp.”

According to Beeman, some agriculture farmers are jumping into the industry to make a profit and cutting corners to get past testing regulations. Despite the fact that the industry skyrocketed, Beeman said there’s a supply-and-demand issue when it comes to processing hemp, and ODA’s regulations are negatively impacting that.

“The bubble we have lived in this past year has popped and will not be back,” Beeman said. “The ODA has now updated the rules and these new rules greatly reduce the value and the possible positions farmers will find themselves in come harvest time.”

There are 1,642 registered hemp farmers in Oregon compared to 584 registered last year. According to the ODA, those farmers have registered to plant more than 53,000 acres. In an effort to further help the industry and protect farmers, Oregon State University will take the lead on certifying hemp seed for registered Oregon growers. This will ensure the seed and, eventually, the hemp crop, remain up-to-date with state and federal industry specifications.

In June, OSU unveiled its Global Hemp Innovation Center, the largest hemp lab in the country. Hemp researchers are now eligible to receive competitive federal grants through the USDA, under the farm bill legislation. The lab aims to innovate across several fields including food, product testing and cultivation by combining 40 members of OSU faculty, working across 19 academic disciplines to help address hemp’s full potential.

Lack of business services, hurts hemp farmers

While innovation is underway, business owners still are suffering. Hemp CBD companies are struggling to find credit unions and banks to work with, despite hemp being legal because it’s still a cannabis plant. U.S. Bank and its subsidiary, Elavon, made headlines when they cut ties with the CBD industry earlier this year.

Local hemp farmer Douglas Bergren agrees that there are significant banking issues for Oregon hemp farmers. Bergren and his wife Jenifer own Greenlogic LLC and the Lay Low Ranch hemp farm in Lane County. The couple is struggling to find a bank that will allow them to open a business account. Three of the company’s bank accounts — two this year alone — were canceled because it’s a hemp-based company.

“We are at the point where we can have personal accounts, but we can’t have one for our business,” said Bergren, who did not attend Wyden’s roundtable. “Our hands are tied.

It’s also been a struggle to find crop insurance, Bergren said. While the bill allows hemp farmers the ability to insure their crop, insurance companies are still turning farmers such as Bergren down. The couple say they feel incredibly fortunate to have their farm and to be able to work in the industry, but not having banking services for their business or the ability to insure their crop puts their company at risk every season.

“We’re losing the ability to function as a business, directly to retail,” Bergren said. “We have to work on a wholesale basis. For every one sale we make, we have to turn 10 people down.”

Hemp can be used as a renewable resource for paper, building materials, textiles and health products. A major market also has grown out of CBD, or cannabidiol, and its potential for food or health supplements. The CBD market is estimated to grow from $618 million in 2018 to $22 billion by 2022, according to the Brightfield Group, an analytics firm that tracks the cannabis industry.

While there are a few financial institutions that support CBD-based companies, others view the lack of regulation from the FDA as a risk.

In a June 2019 press release, the FDA said it was actively evaluating the framework surrounding regulations for non-drug use of cannabis-derived products and would consider what legislation or regulatory updates should be made.

Wyden said he received a letter from the FDA saying the agency would need three to five years to evaluate regulations.

“I am going to bring the Food and Drug Administration kicking and screaming and hollering in to getting these issues resolved,” said Wyden, calling it regulatory underbrush that needed to be handled.

Content from: https://www.registerguard.com/news/20190715/oregon-hemp-farmers-seek-stable-marketplace.