The path to hemp in Texas

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill almost a year ago, hopeful hemp farmers have felt they were watching grass grow as the U.S. Department of Agriculture waited to approve the necessary plans and rules for the licensing process to begin.

In Texas, there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

Should Texas farmers plant hemp in its first legal growing season?

You voted:

After the USDA released its rules for a hemp production program on Oct. 28, the Texas Department of Agriculture began working on its own plan for the state program.

Jim Reaves, the TDA’s coordinator for intergovernmental affairs, said he expects that as early as this week the TDA will deliver its hemp production plan to the governor, attorney general and USDA for approval.

He said the department is anxious to get the rules passed.

“We’ve been sitting on our hands waiting for the USDA to get their rules handed down,” Reaves said.

After the state rules are defined comes a 30-day period of comment. Then, farmers can begin to apply for licenses, a process that can take up to 60 days to be approved.

If all goes as planned, this means growers will be licensed to put hemp seed in the ground in time for the spring season. Experts estimate the window to plant hemp in Texas will be between March and April.

As conditions align for being able to plant hemp in the first place, people are now wondering if they should take the risky leap to become the state’s first hemp planters.

Pro: Hemp farming is an exciting, new agricultural industry
Con: Uncertainty, financial risk abound for hopeful hemp farmers

Morgan O'Hanlon is the business and agriculture reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6328, or on Twitter @mcohanlon.

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