New Regulations Give Virginia Farmers the Opportunity to Grow Hemp
For the first time in nearly 50 years, Virginia farmers are undergoing their seasonal hemp harvest. Our company CBD Livity was the first manufacturer of CBD products in Virginia back in 2015. It’s been remarkable to see the drastic changes implemented to make hemp more accessible to farmers and consumers since. Each state has different rules, which can make hemp and CBD regulations a bit confusing, so we’ve compiled a brief summary of hemp farming in Virginia.
In 2014, a select few farmers were allowed to grow hemp solely for research purposes. In March of this year, the Virginia Industrial Hemp Law was altered to allow commercial production of hemp to any farmer with an approved permit.
By April 31, 2019, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services granted permission to over 600 registered hemp farmers. As the new regulation was put into place, farmers immediately began to plant their hemp seeds since it takes about sixteen weeks for the crop to mature. Some growers who were granted their registrations right away, are already coming to the end of their second full season. As of July 1, 2019, there are over 800 registered hemp farmers in Virginia and the number continues to grow.
Back when Virginia was initially colonized, farmers were required to grow hemp on their land to produce materials like fabric and rope. In fact, George Washington was one of the original growers in the state!
Colonists were focused on using hemp for ships, but another component to the hemp industry is changing the landscape of Virginia today, and it revolves around CBD. The booming CBD market has become a huge influence to the nine million dollars worth of hemp imported to Virginia. The new regulations mean a significant portion of these imports can now come from locally sourced crops from Virginia hemp growers.
In total, Virginia will see over 8,500 acres of hemp harvested this season. This could be a really positive change to agriculture, especially for tobacco farmers who have been struggling in the state for years.
Commercially grown hemp opens the door to start fresh and revitalize land through bioremediation. All the former pesticides and fertilizers used to grow tobacco can be removed from the earth with the power of hemp’s remediation qualities. Hemp crops grown on previously contaminated soil wouldn’t be advised for CBD use, but there are still plenty of other materials derived from hemp such as paper, clothes, and biofuel.
Virginia will have a lot of catching up to do compared to Kentucky and North Carolina where hemp agriculture has been legal for 3+ years and is already booming. However, even with big successes, farmers have to be concerned about unforeseen weather conditions, pest infestations and disease. This makes hemp farming especially risky due to the fact that crop insurance and commercial lines of credit aren’t yet available to hemp growers. The USDA and other individual insurance providers are considering offering crop insurance for Hemp farmers, however these services are not expected to be available until some time in 2020.
Other risks include having hemp plants reach illegal THC levels (higher than .3%), in which case the crops have to be destroyed. To avoid high THC levels, the plants must be monitored and tested throughout the process without compromising sufficient CBD concentrations.
Harvesting hemp usually takes place in October, which means Virginia hemp will become increasingly available to the local market. We’re really excited at the opportunity to start sourcing hemp grown right here in our backyard! If you are interested in becoming a Hemp grower, dealer or processor in Virginia, check out the VDACS Industrial Hemp page for resources and registration applications.
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