Hemp production legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill will offer a new crop option for farmers in Western states facing drought and possible ruin. The Farm Bill allows commercial hemp production, interstate sale, and processing of the plant and its products. Arizona, Wyoming, California, and New Mexico are among the states working to develop hemp production.
A bill signed last year by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey directed its Department of Agriculture to develop rules to allow farmers to start growing hemp by August.
“It completely deregulates and takes it off the Schedule 1 narcotics list,” Brian McGrew, the agency’s industrial hemp program manager, told the Arizona Capital Times. “And then it becomes an agricultural commodity that can go from state to state without the restrictions that were there before.”
With the ongoing drought in Arizona, it takes only about a third of the water to grow hemp as compared to crops such as cotton. “It’s more of a light-driven plant,” McGrew stated. “[However] I don’t think it’s going to be this miracle crop.”
Still, hemp can be grown and harvested as part of crop rotation and offer multiple harvests annually, unlike crops such as cotton.
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed HB0171/ HEA No. 0110 into law, officially legalizing the cultivation and sales of hemp and CBD oil in the state of Wyoming. Hemp will grow well in the climate of Wyoming with the opportunity to boost and grow its agricultural economy.
Scott McDonald, a representative of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, spoke with the Wyoming Public Media about the signing of the bill and its implications. Farmers will need to acquire licenses, laboratories to test hemp, and offer a remediation plan for crops that test above 0.3 percent THC.
“If you manufacture and sell hemp products inside of a state with a state-mandated hemp program, you are legal and protected under state laws. But the minute you sell across state lines, it becomes the jurisdiction of the federal government and, more specifically, the FDA,” according to Charlotte Peyton, a consultant with 30 years of experience in FDA regulations and the hemp industry.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB1409 into law to impact this year. The agricultural economy in the San Joaquin Valley in California could also receive a boost in growing industrial hemp. The newly formed California Hemp Association has been formed to work with different entities in the state to facilitate creating the hemp crop.
Tom Pires, a Riverdale farmer, and cotton cooperative manager spoke with the Fresno Bee and stated, “It’s high value, and we need something like this. It’s another option for farmers when the conditions and the pricing are right.”
New Mexico Department of Agriculture has finalized hemp rules for the state’s first legal harvest later this year. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez initially vetoed the bill to legalize hemp production submitted by New Mexico state representatives. Her veto was overturned, and the New Mexico DOA began to craft the regulations. At present, New Mexico DOA does not require any background check for potential hemp producers, and no requirements are in place that growers must use certified seed varieties.