Homegrown hemp? Louisiana starts licensing farmers

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — Louisiana farmers looking to cash in on one crop’s growing demand now have their chance.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain has begun issuing licenses to grow, process, produce and transport hemp. In recent years, use of the crop has boomed in textiles, lotions, food, paper and rope, among other products.

“This will be a net growth for the economy, starting with the growth of the seed,” Strain said in an interview Monday. “Everything from the growing of the seeds, the making of clones — all the associated industry that goes along with it — that all grows the economy.”

Congress’ 2018 Farm Bill gave states chances to craft industrial hemp programs. Louisiana lawmakers built their version last year, with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hemp is in the cannabis family, with marijuana. Despite having a trace amount of the THC compound that gets users high, the state has lodged strict regulations on the crop. A plant’s THC level must not exceed 0.3 percent, or it will be destroyed.

More than 70 farmers have received industrial hemp licenses since the state started granting them Thursday, Feb. 20. Strain expects hundreds more farmers to get licenses in the coming weeks.

“It’s really exciting when you can have a new commodity and that a new group of farmers can embrace it,” Strain said.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has more information on the state’s industrial hemp program here.

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