By Karla Arboleda
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is ready to see industrial hemp production take off, but there are a few things that need to happen first.
What to know
Aline DeLucia, senior director of public policy for NASDA, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will review state plans once regulations are in place, however, that could only be as soon as this fall. After President Trump signed the 2018 farm bill in December, potential hemp growers began wondering how soon they could take part in the industry.
“We need to educate farmers and growers, we need to engage with law enforcement, and we need to engage with federal agencies,” DeLucia says. “Every single state submitting a state plan is the biggest hurdle.”
NASDA’s agenda for assisting with the industrial production of hemp includes sampling and testing, disposal and destruction of the crop, transportation, sharing data in real time and a felony ban provision, among other items.
“How are we going to be creating uniformity to the extent that we can?” DeLucia asks in reference to getting organized. “This is a very early crop here in the United States. We have a lot of work to do … to get to the point everybody else wants us to be.”
The Food and Drug Administration will eventually also have a say on what happens with hemp production, particularly when it comes to creating cannabidiol (CBD) products. DeLucia says supply and demand will show what consumers want to see.
“Most farmers and growers right now that are entering into hemp production indicated that their interest right now is introducing CBD oil,” DeLucia says. “Eventually the market is going to dictate what’s going to happen here.
What to do
Those interested in growing hemp must be careful to stay informed, DeLucia advises.
“The data in the U.S. is so limited right now,” DeLucia says. “We want to make sure that farmers understand what they’re getting themselves into when they’re completely switching productions or when they’re all of a sudden embedding their entire farm operation in something completely different.”
DeLucia says that NASDA and USDA are working together to hopefully have hemp regulations established by this fall.
“It is important to highlight the 2018 farm bill does not create a completely free system. My focus right now is implementation,” DeLucia said. “This thing is not going to happen overnight.” Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried held informational hemp meetings throughout the state June 20, 21 and 24. She addressed Florida’s state plan during a press conference following the first meeting in South Florida. Listen to her comments here.
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