By Steve Elliott
Agriculture officials in Oregon have for months now been working on rules for industrial hemp production, with a goal of having them finished in time for a Spring 2015 planting. But one man from Portland doesn't want to wait.
Rick Rutherford, 47, has some land in Dufur, and he doesn't want to wait, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Rutherford, who said he sees big potential for industrial hemp, last week sent an application to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, requesting permission to grow hemp on his land in Wasco County.
"Time is of the essence as planting seeds needs to be underway within the next couple of weeks to conduct a viable outdoor research pilot program in Oregon," wrote Courtney Moran, a Portland lawyer, in a letter accompanying Rutherford's application.
"I think it will be kind of fun to do," Rutherford said. "I have been itching to do this for a long time."
State officials on Thursday said they aren't ready to start issuing hemp-growing licenses. The rule writing process has been torturously slow, as officials labor of licensing fees and processing rules.
The Farm Bill approved by Congress earlier this year allows states where industrial hemp is legal -- including Oregon -- to permit hemp production by universities and state agriculture departments. Sixteen states allow hemp cultivation.
By Steve Elliott
Hemp has been legally planted in Kentucky for the first time in decades, signaling the tentative return of a crop which once was a lucrative industry for the Bluegrass State.
University of Kentucky researchers on Tuesday planted a small crop of 13 varieties of hemp seeds, finally released last week by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after pointless bureaucratic wrangling.
Although industrial hemp was an indispensable crop for Kentucky through World War II, it was the first time it had been legally planted in the state since the 1970s, reports Janet Patton at the Herald Leader.
University of Kentucky agronomists RIch Mundell and David Williams will supervise the hemp study. The plants are expected to sprout in 7 to 10 days and will be harvested in October. Each variety will be evaluated for its seed and fiber production.
"It's exciting to be working on something different, and we're very hopeful it will be successful," said Williams. "Generally speaking, compared to some crops, it's not difficult to grow.
"But there are some things that are unknown today," Williams continued. "In particular, differences in the varieties of hemp we have access to today."
While much of the economic interest in hemp decades ago was based on its fiber, now there's more focus on the seeds, which can be press for a nutritious oil which contains essential fatty acids (EFAs) Omega 3 and 6.
By Steve Elliott
The Farm Bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday morning by a vote of 251 to 166, including the hemp provision. "This is a big first step towards allowing American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp," according to VoteHemp.org.
The hemp provision was originally introduced as an amendment to the Farm Bill by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), all three of whom represent states which have legalized industrial hemp. The provision allows universities and state agriculture departments to grow hemp for academic or agricultural research purposes, but applies only to states where industrial hemp farming has already been legalized under state law.
"By including language easing restrictions on industrial hemp in states where it is legal, Congress sends an important message that we are ready to examine hemp in a more appropriate way," Rep. Blumenauer said on Monday.
"Vote Hemp was pleased with the bipartisan support for the amendment and worked with key Republican and Democratic offices in both the House and Senate to ensure the amendment was included in the conference report, which passed the House on Thursday. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) reportedly worked to keep and strengthen the hemp provision in the Farm Bill.
By Steve Elliott
Hemp cultivation for research purposes by colleges, universities and state agriculture departments is allowed in the new Farm Bill, according to a report released Monday night by the U.S. Senate and House conference committee on the bill.
The hemp amendment in the Farm Bill was written by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. All three Congressmen represent states where industrial hemp production is already legal under state law.
The inclusion of the industrial hemp amendment in the Farm Bill is a "bright spot in an otherwise disappointing bill," Rep. Blumenauer said late on Monday. The bill, which cuts about $8 billion from the food stamp program over the next decade, is expected to be voted on by the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday.
"Oregonians have made it clear that they believe industrial hemp should be treated as an agricultural commodity, not a drug," Blumenauer said in an email to The Oregonian. "By including language easing restrictions on industrial hemp in states where it is legal, Congress sends an important message that we are ready to examine hemp in a more appropriate way."
The amendment allows colleges, universities and state agriculture programs to cultivate hemp for research and pilot projects; it does not, however, protect individual farmers who grow the crop.