US (LA): New industrial hemp sector off to a rough start, officials say

Unscrupulous seed dealers, lack of experience with the new crop and regulatory hurdles contributed to a rough first year for Louisiana’s industrial hemp program, state officials said Monday.

“This is a growing pain for us,” said Angela Guidry, industrial hemp coordinator with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

The state has 95 licensed growers, not counting eight that have been approved but have not yet paid the $500 annual fee and 12 pending applicants. But of the 868 acres of hemp planted, only 138 have been harvested, according to the LDAF.

LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain said certified hemp seeds are hard to obtain, and some seeds won’t grow in Louisiana’s climate. He said required federal background checks have progressed slowly during the COIVID-19 pandemic.

Strain said growing hemp that is 0.3 percent THC or less, as the regulations call for, can be challenging. And he said some providers misrepresented the quality of their seeds, leaving growers with an inferior product.


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