Mother Nature is Not Hemps Only Risk

Mother Nature is Not Hemps Only Risk

By Jeff Greene – The Florida hemp Council

It’s true. Hemp is the next cash crop. However, before you buy a bag of seeds on the internet, locate a plot of land in sunny Florida, and toss seeds like Johnny Appleseed expecting money to grow out of the ground, first, do the research. I can’t stress enough how important it is to look before you leap; I recommend working with an association to act as a professional guide because navigating these waters will be no easy task.

Case in point, July 2019 is on record as the day merchant service providers threw the hemp industry a major-league curveball. The hemp industry had been on a winning streak and many newcomers to the business hadn’t lived through the bleakness of instant bank account closings, bad product, no product, or wire and revoked merchant privileges, but for those in the industry for any length of time, this was their normal. “I have experienced and heard stories of CFOs spending 60-70% of their time over the last three months completing applications for banking and merchant services,” said Christopher Martinez, Chairman and President of The Florida Hemp Council. The good news is some banks and merchant service providers realize the burgeoning opportunity and are lining the bases with new payment options.

Are your seeds Certified? Seeds are only certified to variety and not to levels of THC, or CBD because this data does not exist…yet. And for every state which has legalized hemp, it’ll take two to three years before a farm turns a significant profit. The growing farms in Florida will not be any different.

As we overcome these obstacles and swing for the fences, the next fastpitch is CBD processing. CBD extraction is the topic of conversation lately and there’s no doubt investment into CBD extraction is already happening in Florida. However, fiber production requires retting, degumming, and decortication. This fiber production technology is advanced in China but woefully neglected in the United States. We know big manufacturers have been sniffing around but until big money jumps into space we can expect it to move at a snail’s pace.

Rounding out the inning are the retailers, which legally must register with Florida to ensure they’re not selling unregistered or uncertified products, plus all organic labeling is accurate and consumer safety. It’s important that retailers request a Certificate of Analysis (COA) for each product being sold in their stores from an accredited 3rd party laboratory. Per the FDA, CBD cannot medically cure or treat what ails you, so labels must not claim to do so. Consumers are learning anecdotally via social media and online how CBD, CBG, CBN, and the entourage effect can help with certain health conditions. If products go to a retailer, manufacturer, or another reseller, no health claims are allowed by law on the product label or marketing.

So, as a fledgling industry, where consumers can’t be told how to ingest the products, or how much product to administer, retailers must exercise caution over the watchful eye of law enforcement, manufacturers need clean extraction, and farmers need certified seeds, then how is our business going to grow from under the radar to $20 billion over the next five years? The answer is simpler than you’d suspect – consumers see firsthand that the products work for them and they spread the word. Retailers educate themselves by joining organizations such as the Florida Hemp Council, while manufacturers and farmers do what they have always done, meet consumer demand.

Hemp Industry Booming in Nevada

Hemp Industry Booming in Nevada

In 2017, the Nevada Department of Agriculture issued 26 permit for hemp growers as a research program. In 2018, hemp was removed from the Schedule 1 federal drug list, and turned into an agricultural commodity. Now there are more than 200 hemp grower in the silver state.

In 2017, the Nevada Department of Agriculture issued 26 permit for hemp growers as a research program. In 2018, hemp was removed from the Schedule 1 federal drug list, and turned into an agricultural commodity. Now there are more than 200 hemp grower in the silver state.

Don Blunt is one of the more than 200 farmers growing hemp this season, and it’s his first since joining the industry. They’re about seven to eight weeks away from their first harvest, but right now they’re making space to grow more next year.

“We’re going to clear another 50 acres next year, We have a 50-acre farm this year and it’s doing quite well,” Blunt says. “We have about 110 thousand plants, and the growing cycle is 120 days and we’re about halfway there.”

Blunt opened his farm in March and planted his first hemp plants in June. He decided to start a hemp farm after CBD cured his migraines. He had gone to neurologists at the Mayo Clinic and Stanford and nothing worked prior.

“That was about a little less than a year ago,” Blunt says. “And I’m headache free now I lost all of my migraines because of the CBD.”

There’s demand for industrial hemp products like rope, but Blunt plans to sell all of his hemp for CBD use. He likes the medicinal effects, and likes the variety of products.

“Tinctures, the vapes, the balms, the rubs for arthritis and so forth,” Blunt says. “We’ve had several inquiries for cancer treatments for the pain. Pets is a huge market. We give all of our pets CBD.”

In order for hemp to be legally sold by farmers, it has to be tested for THC, and can’t have more than .03 percent of THC. Blunt says that’s not hard to meet if you buy quality product.

“It’s all about the genetics,” Blunt says. “If you buy good seeds from the proper people. We actually do third-party testing with three different labs in three different states.”

Blunt says he could add more acreage down the line. He hopes as the industry grows and more states recognize cannabis and hemp as useful products, banks will be more open to doing business with them.

“They have kind of grown in their horns so to speak,” Blunt says. “They’re not supporting hemp at this time. And I hope that changes because it makes it tough on us farmers.”

Blunt has six full-time employees, and adds about 30 workers when it’s time to harvest because there’s so much extra work.

This story originally appeared at ktvn.com

New Film Focuses on Farmers, Criteria for Hemp Farmers

New Film Focuses on Farmers, Criteria for Hemp Farmers

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance has unveiled a new film that highlights the urgency needed in the fight against climate change.

Despite uncertain economic times, farmers are front and center as the agents for change in “30 Harvests.”

The docudrama follows the plight of farmer Jay Hill of Dell City, Texas and farmer and soil scientist Meagan Kaiser of Bowling Green, Missouri.

In the short film, they articulate the challenge farmers face while embracing the opportunity to meet the increasing demands for food, and ultimately help solve one of the greatest challenges of this generation: climate change.

If you would like to watch “30 Harvests”, it’s now available in its entirety on You Tube.

The Montana Department of Agriculture is reminding hemp growers that verification of license information and additional fees are required before growers can be issued their hemp production license, which is needed to harvest and process or sell their crop.

The Department sent letters to each license holder at the beginning of July asking growers to verify the crop information that will be printed on each grower’s license certificate.

The information provided should be sent to the Department asap as it helps the Department track production and develop timelines for sampling and testing.

If you are a grower who did not receive a letter from the Department, please contact Andy Gray at (406) 444-0512. 

This story originally appeared at ktvq.com

Women leading way as hemp revival sweeps Western North Carolina

Women leading way as hemp revival sweeps Western North Carolina

It’s easy to get swept away in the magic of a hemp farm where dragonflies float and goats bleat on verdant hills. Franny’s Farm is a place where practical magic and science meet.

Owned and operated by Franny Tacy and her husband and CEO Jeff Tacy, Franny’s is an active hemp farm in Leicester, and one of the grower sites for North Carolina State University’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program. The program’s aim is to shoulder the burden of trial and error for farmers who want to dig into a swiftly growing industry.

Franny Tacy was a pharmaceutical industry executive for a decade, and also holds a forestry degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and a master’s in education from Tennessee State University.

She’s also the first female industrial hemp grower in Western North Carolina and, as a woman, part of the fastest-growing farmer demographic in the U.S. The future of hemp, she said, is female.

“The hemp revolution, if you will, in Western North Carolina is being led by female researchers, and female growers and female business owners,” she said.

Meagan Coneybeer-Roberts, a Ph.D. researcher and part of the Alternative Crops and Organic Research group at NC State, and Gwen Casebeer, a master’s student at NC State, are two of the women leading hemp research in the region. 

Their work focuses exclusively on industrial hemp, with field trials taking place on seven regional grower farms: four in Buncombe County and three in Caldwell County, all averaging 1,000 plants per acre, with the largest site a biodynamic grower in Caldwell with 6 acres.

“We take the burden of risk and we take the burden of experimentation, and we allow the growers to take what we find that works,” Coneybeer-Roberts said. “Then they can use that to make money and grow hemp successfully.”

On the day research clones were planted in Tacy’s field, shortly after Mother’s Day, shamans came to tap drums and bless the plants. While inviting a shaman to a hemp planting might sound as Asheville as you can get, Coneybeer-Roberts said ritual can easily co-exist with science.

“There are indications that plants respond to music, to sound, to vibration,” she said, standing on the edge of the field where volunteers planted buffer plants around her research rows. “It certainly couldn’t hurt.”

Before the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act swept hemp away in prohibition, American farmers long grew the plant for fiber, feed and more, with George Washington one of hemp’s more famous cultivators.

“The government even encouraged them to do so,” said Dr. Jeanine Davis, adviser to Casebeer and Coneybeer-Roberts. Davis is an associate professor and extension specialist with the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State.

It wasn’t until the 2014 Farm Bill, under then-president Barack Obama, that growers were allowed to plant pilot industrial hemp plots, and only under the umbrella of universities and state departments of agriculture for research. 

Ever since President Donald Trump signed into law the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, hemp containing less than 0.3% THC is now regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, moving it out from under Drug Enforcement Administration regulation, Davis said. 

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it is no longer a controlled substance under federal law, allowing for the possibility of crop insurance and opening doors to bank funding, Davis explained. “People should be able to grow more freely.”

At the same time, according to an FDA statement, Congress preserved the FDA’s authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and section 351 of the Public Health Service Act. 

“The FDA will now help, and some will say hinder, us decide whether CBD will be regulated as a botanical, a pharmaceutical, or some of both,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to rules and regulations on production so we, as consumers, know we’re getting a safe, clean product.” 

Now, it’s a brave new world, and hemp agriculture is booming in the state, with 3,000 permits issued for hemp growers this year, a 900% increase in less than a year.

The national appetite for hemp and hemp-derived products is huge, with Scientific American reporting the U.S. imported more than $67 million worth of hemp seed and fiber products in 2017.

Some of hemp’s growth is likely influenced by the booming demand for CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid proponents say is useful for everything from arthritic pain to anxiety in humans and in pets.

The CBD market was worth nearly $200 million in 2017, triple that by the end of last year. Rapid growth is predicted to continue.

That’s just one tool in hemp’s toolbox, with the plant’s uses counting among the tens of thousands, some largely unexplored, and many nowhere near as sexy as CBD. They include everything from fiber to cooking products to a building material called “hempcrete.”

One size does not fit all when it comes to the plant, and plants grown for fiber might not be useful for oil. Figuring which plants are best for which use, and how those plants prefer to grow, is no easy task.

That’s where the trials come in.

Proponents of hemp agriculture, like Tacy, hope the results could help North Carolina emerge as a leader in the industry. “You have Florida oranges, Idaho potatoes, and hopefully North Carolina hemp,” she said.

Hemp’s long history buried

Decades-long prohibition has left huge gaps in grower knowledge, and programs like NC State’s and other hemp trials aim to fill in the spaces.

“There are multiple generations that haven’t come into contact with hemp as a crop so, for production and harvest information, a lot of the resources I’ve used personally date back to the 19th century and in other countries,” Coneybeer-Roberts said. 

Working to push the notion of knowledge as power is the nonprofit Women in Hemp. 

Co-founded by Tacy, LilyHemp boutique’s Susan Cromer, Florida hemp attorney Carrie McKnight and Coeus Research founder Debbie Custer, Women in Hemp has worked to help back hemp research, providing, for one, at least a quarter of the funding for Coneybeer-Roberts’ and Casebeers’ project. 

Tacy, who once started a junior high science club to get microscopes in her school, says she feels the same sort of childlike wonder in throwing her energy behind Women in Hemp.

It’s the right mix of magic, science and activism that fuels her work on the farm. “Mixing science and magic is exactly what we were doing in the field this morning,” she said in July, the field hemp not yet flowered. 

She and a new hire had worked together under the hot summer sun, mixing organic fertilizer and rigorously testing and balancing the pH — getting the science right first, Tacy said. 

Then, the magic: As part of biodynamic principles, they swirled the water clockwise 50 times, then counterclockwise 50 times to create a vortex over which Tacy read poetry. 

“We have love written on our barn over our hemp field, and we go into the field with our best intentions,” she said. “We’re putting science out there, but our intentions are what are helping create a crop tens of thousands of people have access to in our product line.”

Tacy grows enough hemp to create a vertically integrated supply chain for Franny’s Farm products, sold online and in the company’s four Franny’s Farmacy dispensaries. Within weeks, the company will offer a public stock option, with franchise options also coming to the table.

Tacy hopes hemp will become North Carolina’s new agricultural legacy, and her company is proof there’s a strong market for it. “I think right now, we’re in the gold rush era, if you will, and we found a nugget with CBD — no pun intended.”

A reason to be optimistic

Of the 22 rows of hemp on Franny’s Farm, NC State’s trial plants occupy the center of five, each covered in different colors of plastic. 

The red plastic, Coneybeer-Roberts said in May, might encourage flower set. The silver might have some utility in reducing insects. Black warms the soil, while white doesn’t trap the heat as much. The green? “We don’t know yet,” she said, but it’s something they’ve observed in marijuana cultivation in places where it’s legal.

They won’t know the impacts until later this year. The trials are double blind, and not even the growers know the identities of the hemp plant varietals, many provided by Triangle Hemp in Durham.

The results of what will be a three-year trial will eventually be compared with 20 universities across the world, including in Dubai, Barcelona and Texas. The trials will have studied hemp for fiber and food for three years at the end of this season, which will also mark the second year of CBD research.

Davis said she’s not sure yet how the information will be compiled and disseminated. “But I think we’re going to answer a lot of questions.”

For a researcher, it’s an exciting prospect to be on the forefront of the cultivation of a crop that’s been illegal to grow for generations simply because of its association with a psychoactive cousin.

There’s no real reason not to be optimistic. The question isn’t whether or not hemp will grow here, but what kind is perfect for each region, and how to build the infrastructure to process it into an end product — which itself is a long and complicated story. 

A replacement for tobacco?

Hemp is often held up as a viable replacement for tobacco, once a booming industry and cultural influence in the state, now all but faded. 

Part of the hemp narrative is the notion that the planting, growing and processing methods for tobacco can be easily transferred to hemp. But there are still so many questions left unanswered and, as Tacy will tell you, a lot of misinformation out there.

“The important thing to remember is we are still in a pilot program and still doing a lot of research, so everyone growing hemp in North Carolina has the exact length of time of experience,” Coneybeer-Roberts said. “We are all equally experienced and inexperienced.”

Tacy has a farmer’s directness and a passion for her crop. “There is never going to be another tobacco,” she said. “Tobacco has one use. Hemp is the only crop that will feed, clothe, shelter and provide medicine.”

In five years, Tacy predicted, hemp prohibition will seem like nothing but a blip. “It will seem ridiculous that we ever didn’t grow hemp. It will be in our food system, in our clothing system, in our building materials, our bio-fuels. Every aspect.”

North Carolina has one of the strongest agricultural economies in the country, she said.

“We are farming people. We have a farm economy here, and our farmers have struggled with the loss of tobacco; they’ve struggled to get a foothold into something new.”

Whether or not hemp will become North Carolina’s agricultural calling card remains to be seen, though researchers will be one step closer to finding out after this growing season. 

But on the sunny May day the clones went into the ground, Jeff Tacy addressed the volunteers gathered for the occasion, his focus on the day-to-day magic he said surrounds the plant.

“I’m in the dispensaries every day, and it’s been mind-blowing the feedback we’ve gotten from people using CBD products,” he said. “It’s many miracles every day in these stores as we interact with people who are getting off opioids, and getting back to a normal lifestyle and finding relief from their inflammation.”

“This is where it starts,” he said, gesturing to the fields. “It’s been an amazing journey.” 

This story first appeared on Citizen Times

SC Hemp Farming Could Top 3,000 Acres as States Scramble for a Piece of the Booming Market

SC Hemp Farming Could Top 3,000 Acres as States Scramble for a Piece of the Booming Market

In just its second year growing hemp, South Carolina is projecting a 1,200% increase in acres of what many are hailing as the next big cash crop.

This heightened rate of growth is common around the country as states scramble for a piece of the budding market. Though the Palmetto State is years behind the regional hemp powerhouse of Kentucky, growers here now see opportunity to come into their own and catch up with neighboring states following law changes this spring.

“I think we’re in a really good position right now to be a solid hemp state,” said Vanessa Elsalah, hemp program coordinator for the state Agriculture Department.

South Carolina has 113 permitted growers this year planning to plant about 3,300 acres total, Elsalah said, though the department did not provide the field locations and actual acres planted may change. This is up from 20 growers and 256 acres last year.

City Roots, a Columbia urban farm known for its organic greens, planted 80 acres of hemp in Columbia this year and plans to plant another 120 acres south of Charleston by the end of the month, said Eric McClam. And he does not expect excitement around the new crop to subside.

“We will increase acreage again next year,” he said, having joined forces with another grower and processor, Brackish Solutions.

With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, limits on hemp cultivation and the plant’s status as a Schedule 1 drug were lifted at the federal level. Brackish founder Jason Eargle was among those pushing expansion of the state’s program in response.

“We’ll get left behind if we don’t open this up to more people,” Eargle said. “If federal law allows it, why should we cap it? We wanted to not hold back our state from competing.”

In the region, Kentucky’s hemp industry is about five years ahead of South Carolina and grew 6,700 acres last year. The Bluegrass State is now up to 1,035 approved growers.

North Carolina has one year on the Palmetto State, having grown 965 acres in 2017 and 3,184 acres in 2018. And Tennessee has 2,600 farmers licensed to grow this year. Last year, 226 farmers grew a combined 4,700 acres in the Volunteer State.

South Carolina farmers first planted hemp in 2018, when 20 permits were issued by the Agriculture Department and 256 acres were grown. The program was set to double in 2019 when a new law signed in March removed any limits. The agency then opened up planting to all who had applied earlier in the year.

The agriculture department’s hemp division fields multiple calls daily from potential new growers hoping to plant in 2020.

“Since that law has been passed, (state Agriculture Department officials) are really jumping in head first,” Eargle said. “If they keep doing that, I think we will very quickly catch up with and surpass our neighbors.”

Much of the current demand can be attributed to CBD oil.

This story originally appeared on Post and Courier

The Hemp University Launches Online Hemp Cultivation Masterclasses

The Hemp University Launches Online Hemp Cultivation Masterclasses

The Hemp University Launches Online Hemp Cultivation Masterclasses. A Hemp, Inc. Subsidiary

This is some of the most exciting times ever for hemp farmers, hemp industry and the ability to learn online!

The Hemp University’s eight online educational masterclasses are $10 each and each masterclass is under an hour in length. The online courses include lectures from industry leaders who educated attendees at the first Hemp University workshop in Ashland, Oregon. These online masterclasses provide farmers who were either not able to attend the first Hemp University or who would like to revisit certain topics presented by the event speakers.

“We carefully choose our speakers and topics for each Hemp University to ensure attendees are maximizing their time and have the ability to walk away fully understanding the plant and optimal growing conditions and practices,” said Hemp, Inc. CEO Bruce Perlowin. “We have been successful in this through our in-person classes, and by opening educational masterclasses online, we hope to further reach interested farmers and educate them on the various important topics covered by leading industry experts whenever they can and wherever they are.”

Currently, the available online masterclasses include educational lectures from the following industry leaders.

●      Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc.
“Hemp and the Renaissance of the Small Family Farm”

●      Farmer Tom Lauerman
“Cooperative Farming – No Need to Reinvent the Wheel”

●      The Evolving Science of Testing – Todd Denkin
“An Overview of Standard Operating Procedures”

●      Trygve Waage
“The Human Factor – Sustainable Development of your Hemp Business Team”

●      Whitney Murdoch
“Planting in Alliance with Nature”

●      Michael Monarch
“Cultivating Profit with Hemp”

●      Greg Flavall
“Hempcrete – the Green Alternative Building Material”

●      Eviane Coton
“Regenerative Farming – The Secret to Long-Term Success”

This is the third year Hemp, Inc. has held The Hemp University educational seminars.

Since its inception, The Hemp University has grown into a bi-coastal program and has, thus far, educated close to 1,000 farmers on growing hemp. Each class provides farmers with the knowledge to grow the lucrative crop. The online masterclasses allow Hemp, Inc. to extend its reach to more people around the world.

Perlowin added, “We always receive such great feedback from the attendees, speakers and vendors at these seminars so it made sense to open up online access to people who were unable to attend. With these online masterclasses taken from the first west coast Hemp University, farmers will learn straight from the experts and be able to choose topics they are interested in.”

Let Bruce Perlowin know you saw this here first – He’ll do flips of Joy!  

Online masterclasses from the May 4, 2019 Pre-Planting Support Workshop will be available in the coming weeks.