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Forum focuses on industrial hemp

http://www.agrinews-pubs.com PEKIN, Ill. — Potential industrial hemp growers and processors filled the Zeller Banquet Center Jan. 18 to learn more about the agronomics, regulations, regional market opportunities and challenges.

The event was hosted by the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council as part of a farm forums series to facilitate discussions among farmers and other ag-based businesses, researchers and resource organizations to encourage diversification and innovation on farms and foster the creation of new ag markets and supply chains.

Industrial hemp can be used in more than 25,000 products, including animal feed and bedding, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, paper, construction materials and personal care.

The Hemp Industries Association estimates the U.S. hemp market sales reached $818 million in 2017. About 23 percent went to cannabidiol oil, 22 percent for personal care products, 18 percent for industrial applications, 17 percent for food, 13 percent for consumer textiles, 5 percent for supplements and 2 percent for other consumer products.

Hemp-based products are widely being sold in the U.S. but most of the input ingredients have been imported, mostly from Canada where industrial hemp was legalized in the 1990s.

The product also is being imported from China and Europe where there haven’t been policies that strictly limit hemp production.

Hemp was a U.S. Department of Agriculture-supported crop during both world wars, primarily for its fiber. Legal production stopped in the 1950s as hemp became wrapped into U.S. drug laws.

U.S. law mandates a strict threshold of how much tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compounds found in its cousin, marijuana, is allowed in the industrial hemp plant — no more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

Any cannabis derived product with more than 0.3 THC is considered to be marijuana, as defined in U.S. drug laws.

Farm Bill Provisions

The door was opened for industrial hemp in the 2014 farm bill, allowing for a pilot program for research purposes. The research could be conducted in states that had laws in place to allow for the cultivation by state agriculture departments or institutions of higher education.

Prior to the 2014 farm bill, only 10 states allowed hemp cultivation; that number has since increased to about 40 states, including Illinois.

Industrial hemp production acres have grown from 9,770 acres in 2016 to 78,176 acres in 2018. Montana leads the way with 22,000 acres followed by Colorado’s 21,578 acres.

The farm bill passed in 2018 included several titles addressing industrial hemp.

“Perhaps the most important was the provision that amends the Controlled Substances Act that excludes hemp from the statutory definition of marijuana, noting industrial hemp may not contain more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. It also removed hemp as a Schedule 1 drug,” Renee Johnson, Congressional Research Service agricultural policy specialist, said at the forum via phone.

The bill created new requirements under the Agricultural Marketing Act. It provides that states or tribal governments may not prohibit the “transportation or shipment of hemp or hemp products.” It removes prohibitions of hemp or hemp products produced in accordance with the new requirements.

The new farm bill also included the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2018, establishing regulatory framework to monitor compliance and regulation production. USDA has the sole authority to issue guidelines and regulations regarding the production of hemp.

The act requires USDA to report any hemp production without a license to the U.S. attorney general and requires certain other information sharing to law enforcement.

The legislation defines hemp for the purposes of federal crop insurance eligibility and adds hemp to the statutory definition of “agricultural commodity.” It also adds hemp to the crops of which post-harvest losses may be covered by federal crop insurance, which for most crops is generally prohibited. Post-harvest losses also are covered for tobacco, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Source: http://www.agrinews-pubs.com