More than six years after hemp pilot programs were launched by the 2014 Farm Bill, the nascent sector is still plagued by patchwork state legislations and little if any federal regulation. As more farmers dip their toes into the hemp space and it becomes more lucrative, industry players and lawmakers alike have consistently urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) to craft standardized hemp rules. Now, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (“NASDA”) is asking the USDA to expand hemp farmers’ access to federal grants by allowing for two different classifications based on its intended use.
This comes a week after members of the NASDA, which represents agriculture departments in all 50 states and four U.S. territories, agreed during an annual meeting to change the organization’s policy regarding USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Program. The organization is now requesting that the USDA allow hemp farmers to designate their crops as either an agronomic commodity or a specialty crop. If the USDA agrees to this request, it would help farmers across the country have expanded access to federal grants, providing them with the valuable resources they need to prosper in the evolving hemp space, stakeholders say.
NASDA’s new policy states that the organization supports dual designation for hemp as a specialty crop based on the way and the purpose for which it is grown as well as expanding eligibility to funding from Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to include farmers who grow hemp for horticultural purposes. According to Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the group is encouraged by NASDA’s commitment to working with the hemp industry and identifying solutions that support hemp farmers. The move also has the potential to open the door to the finding and support that hemp farmers “desperately need,” especially as the country struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press release, NASDA CEO Barb Glenn said allowing hemp to be designated as both a specialty crop and agronomic commodity acknowledges the plant’s “up and coming nature” and assures new farmers that they will be supported if regardless of which route they choose — growing hemp for fiber, food or horticultural use. Herrick Fox, the co-chair of the National Industrial Hemp Council’s government relations committee, posits that the only reason hemp wasn’t granted dual designation by the USDA before is because federal agencies are still getting used to the idea of hemp being legal after nearly a century of prohibition.
Fortunately, the USDA is now working to create a regulatory structure for hemp. The agency passed a Final Rule on hemp earlier this year, and the agency is about to run a large-scale survey to gain a deeper understanding of the hemp sector.
If the federal grant program is expanded for hemp farmers, the additional sources of hemp biomass for manufacturing entities such as Golden Triangle Ventures Inc. (OTC: GTVH) could significantly expand since farmers would be able to grow the plant on larger tracts of land.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Golden Triangle Ventures Inc. (OTC: GTVH) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/GTVH
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