With more than 25,000 identified uses for hemp, Texas farmers want in on the action because they aren’t making what they used to. Texas hasn’t legalized industrial hemp yet, but the farmers are hoping that the new farm bill will change things for them.
There is a provision in the 2018 farm bill that would decriminalize hemp, according to the Houston Chronicle. Decriminalization would make it more likely for the Texas Legislature to legalize industrial hemp so that the industry could flourish and farmers would have another source of income available. Some of Texas’ lawmakers think that legalizing hemp will lead to marijuana legalization in the state.
Rancher Jeff Williams said, “Making money from farming has gotten harder and harder every year and it it’s just another crop that gives me something else to grow. I raise cattle. And you know who makes ultimately the most money year in, year out is the slaughterhouses. He producers, the feeders, we’re at the bottom of the totem pole. For me this is such a monumental new industry, and to be able to jump in at the ground floor and not only grow but produce products, to be able to have both sides of that chain, is one of the most exciting things.”
If hemp is decriminalized in the 2018 farm bill, it would be removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Those that already do cultivate hemp or would in the future would be able to obtain crop insurance.
Kentucky’s pilot program has already generated $7.5-million in revenue for hemp farmers. It’s also created about 100 new jobs. Texans are hoping to see similar, if not better results. There are a few Texas lawmakers that already think that help cultivation should be permitted in Texas.
Measures passed unanimously in both 2015 and 2017 in the agricultural committee, but the legislation didn’t move any further.
One big benefit that farmers have is the support of the 2018 Texas GOP platform. They fully support hemp legalization.
Farmer Laurance Armour said, “You’ve got this momentum going, but we have to somehow get these legislators beyond this knee-jerk response that hemp is marijuana and it’s going to cause everybody to become dope heads and stuff.”
Many of the state’s farmers are interested in growing hemp because it is a good filler crop and is easy to rotate in and out of their crop schedules. Some speculate that Texas could be one of the largest hemp producing states in the country should legalization/decriminalization occur.
Coleman Hemphill of the Texas Hemp Industries Association said, “Just that reduced time frame is going to reduce a lot of the liabilities with the crop and the water consumption. It’s not a silver bullet by any means, but it is resilient.”
Hemp only takes between 60 and 90 days to be mature enough for harvest. This is a shorter growing time than many other crops. Farmers would be able to plant hemp multiple times per year instead of just 1 time of another crop.