Texas ‘hempire’ to grow as USDA publishes final rule on industrial hemp production

Texas Politics

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller participates in a roundtable discussion with US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Texas farmers in Coupland, Texas on July, 16, 2020. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller says he’s pleased with the approval of federal rules for the industrial hemp program.

“This industry is booming and needs the certainty that comes with finalizing these guidelines,” Miller said. “While hemp growers might not have gotten everything they wanted, I believe USDA has responded to the industry and is working to improve this program.”

The 2018 Farm Bill green-lit the United States Department of Agriculture to create a framework for hemp production regulations nationwide. The USDA published a final rule on Jan. 15, which take effect March 22.

“Here in Texas, we’ve been in the hemp business for almost a year and we’re busy building the Texas ‘hempire’ — we’ve issued over 1150 producer licenses, permitted over 5,000 acres of hemp in the ground and over 15 million square feet of hemp in greenhouses,” Miller said in a statement Tuesday.

A Texas law created in 2019 allows farmers in the Lone Star State to grow industrial hemp.

“I still believe hemp offers Texas farmers a great opportunity and I look forward to continuing to improve our program here in the Lone Star State,” Miller continued, adding that he looked forward to updating legislators this session on how the budding program has succeeded “despite some very difficult times.”

The USDA highlighted key provisions of the final rule, including how to handle non-compliant plants, testing using DEA-registered laboratories and timing of sample collection.

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