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Friday, November 22, 2019

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, NOVEMBER 22, 2019

HEMP FARMING MOVING CLOSER

Farmers who have been looking to the production of hemp to give them another cash crop are moving closer to being able to produce the product.

The State Department of Agriculture issued a notice on Oct. 31, 2019 called an interim final rule which formalized the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program which was published in the Federal Register.

Action by U.S.D.A. in issuing rules and regulations followed the inclusion of allowances for hemp production in the Farm Bill passed by Congress last year.

FOLLOWING A COMMENT PERIOD

U.S.D.A. expects to approve state plans within 60 days of submission. Once approved, Georgia is set to move quickly with a Domestic Hemp Production Program and activate the Georgia Hemp Farming Act. Georgia's rules will be finalized after posting final notice for 20 days with the Georgia Secretary of State.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF HEMP

The early settlers in America grew hemp, even requiring its production in Jamestown as a necessary and acceptable resource. States in the 1700's even offered bounties to support its production.

The Declaration of Independence's first drafts were on hemp paper and it is believed that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their farms.

As other fibers became common, hemp lost favor and in the 1930's concerns were raised over the narcotic use of Cannabis and the use of marijuana resulting in the passage of the Marihuana & Tax Act of 1937. The act also created the Bureau of Narcotics.

Soon the Bureau announced they would treat and penalize the possession of any plant that could be considered marijuana and would be treated as marijuana.

The United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1970 defined marijuana as a schedule one narcotic. Cannabis sativa L continued to be classified as a narcotic until the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

WHAT THE FEDERAL FARM ACT DID

The 2018 Farm Bill did two major things that changed everything for potential hemp growers. One, it defined hemp as the plant Cannabis sativa L with a THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) level of 0.3% or less. This allowed for hemp to be removed from the list of schedule one narcotics.
Second, the 2018 Farm Bill established guidelines for states to set up their own registry and licensing programs for hemp production.

The bill required the regulation of growing in conjunction with USDA and for each state to submit a plan for its regulation to USDA.

Federal requirements include maintaining information on the land for production, procedures for testing for THC level and how nonconforming plants would be disposed of.

GEORGIA PASSES THE HEMP FARMING ACT OF 2019

Georgia's Hemp production bill closely tracked the parameters of the federal Farm Bill. The Act include procedures for testing and for destroying the crop if THC levels are out of compliance, higher than 0.3% and provides a process for destroying the crop.

There are two kinds of registrations for grower's licenses and processor's permits. One permit can be applied for annually and fees are assessed depending on the number of acres the farmer intends to plant. The fee is $50.00 per acre with a cap of $5000.

Processors can apply for one permit at $25,000 for the first year and $10,000 yearly afterward. There are requirements on both the farmer and processor as far as the background of employees.

MANY SPECIFICS IN THE RULES AND REGULATIONS

As expected, there are a number of very specific rules and regulations regarding the production of hemp. Applicants must list the GPS coordinates of the growing site. Additionally, each site under an acre or visible from the highway must have a 36 inch by 24 inch sign stating that the site is a hemp grower's site listing the licensee, license number Ga Department of Agriculture's phone number.

For further info and registration of intent to register to grow, contact: http://agr.georgia.gov/industrial-hemp-production.aspx

HEMP PRODUCTION MEETING HELD IN WAYNESBORO

This past Tuesday, November 19, a hemp production meeting was held in Waynesboro featuring Dr. Timothy Coolong speaking.

Apparently, the USDA is in the comment period and Georgia's approval won't start until final release of USDA's regulations are complete.

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