AUSTIN, Texas -- Texans who want to legally grow hemp are one step closer to making that a reality now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week released its framework for hemp production. Now, the state says it's ready to submit its plan for approval. These moves have local entrepreneurs who sell hemp products ready to cash in on the potential cash crop.
- Texans preparing to sell hemp products
- Dept. of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wishes for more federal guidance
- Farmers required to register growing land
Gene Dietrich owns the Austin American Shaman in North Austin. He sells hemp-derived CBD products.
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"It's like a maintenance, it's really good for you," said Dietrich.
He's hoping to expand his product line when local farmers begin growing and selling industrial hemp from Texas soil. Newly released USDA regulations bring the State Department of Agriculture one step closer to allowing farmers to sew their firsts seeds.
"We really don't want to miss spring planting," said Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
The new regulations require farmers to register their growing land with the government and keep up with a once-yearly inspection. But Miller says in some areas, the federal rules leave much to be desired.
"We could have used a little more specific guidance on how to oversee the seed program. We could have more guidance on testing. They kind of left the testing - like, whatever y'all want to do," said Miller.
Federally, if a crop ever tests "hot," meaning it has more than 0.3 percent THC, which is the psychoactive chemical that gets you high, the entire harvest must be destroyed by law enforcement. But will there be a margin of error on the state level?
"We're trying to figure that out," said Miller.
Dietrich's pleased by the USDA regulations and says he is eager for local farmers to cash in so he can offer more to his clients.
"I think it's fantastic that the state's going to be able to make a revenue off that. It's going to be incredible," said Dietrich.
The federal government legalized hemp as part of the 2018 Farm Bill and Texas legislators followed suit earlier this year. Commissioner Miller says he wants to have a plan ready by next month, but there's still some federal issues to iron out like a mandate that there be one plant sample taken for every acre. So, 5,000 acres means 5,000 samples, and Miller says he's not sure he has the manpower to do that.