On his latest stop during his visit to different states growing industrial hemp, USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach toured a farm in Kentucky and got firsthand information about the challenges that hemp farmers there are facing.
In his remarks on Wednesday, Ibach expressed optimism that while Kentucky was a little behind other states in the cultivation of industrial hemp, it could easily catch up.
These comments came at the end of his tour of Nebraska Hop Yards, a hemp farm whose plants appeared to be at the peak of their growth and there were pointers that the farmer would get a good harvest once the flowers mature.
Annette Wiles, the owner of Nebraska Hop Yards, highlighted some of the challenges that industrial hemp farmers are currently facing. For example, she revealed that Nebraska didn’t have THC testing facilities and yet hemp has to be tested before it is given approval to be harvested and sold or used.
Consequently, Wiles says she was forced to consider sending samples out of state for the necessary THC testing to be done. However, she was involved in a kind of catch-22 situation because she was required to fill paperwork in which she was asked to guarantee that the samples didn’t exceed 0.3 percent THC concentration and yet she had no way of ascertaining the THC content until the test results were released.
Wiles added that she was working with the Sheriff’s department and the Attorney for Douglas County in order to find a solution to this dilemma. It should be remembered that hemp’s cousin marijuana is illegal and cannot be transported across state lines, so the additional challenges that farmers face in sending hemp out of state for testing arise out of the fear that courier companies could be held liable for trafficking marijuana.
In response to Wiles, Ibach said that he hoped that once the USDA releases its baseline rules for hemp then it would be easy for the different states to set up systems for cultivation, sale and testing of hemp in compliance with the federal guidelines.
Ibach was also quick to observe that while hemp is now legally an agricultural commodity like soy or corn, hemp farmers should expect some restrictions due to the close resemblance between legal hemp and marijuana, which is a controlled substance.
He also anticipated that in the years to come, there could be fewer regulatory hurdles for hemp grown for fiber unlike the varieties grown for CBD extraction.
It is widely believed by experts that industry players like Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI) and SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING) could be thinking that the field visits by top USDA officials may be geared at gathering information that can be used to fine tune the hemp rules being made.
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