US (MD): Growers still learning about hemp production

Hemp growers need to navigate a maze of legal and production challenges if they hope to be successful. That was part of the message in a hemp update roundtable delivered on Saturday, Nov. 7, at a University of Maryland Eastern Shore Conference. This year’s 17th annual Small Farm Conference was delivered partially on-site and partially by Zoom.

Saturday’s Zoom conference focused on legal and production hurdles faced by hemp farmers. Hemp growth was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill, but there are conflicting state rules about usage and a lack of production facilities available. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a good cash crop, but it does mean farmers have to do their homework well before the first seed gets planted.

Zoom speakers urged farmers to have a buyer before they grow their crop, but that is not as easy as it sounds, according to attorney Scheril Murray Powell. That’s because the hemp industry is in its infancy and buyers want to know they are getting a consistent crop. “It’s not that easy to know where you’re selling it,” said Powell, who is a hemp advocate as well as a farmer.

She said that rules for whether hemp from out of state can be sold, whether hemp can be used for human consumption or whether it can be used in pet products vary from state to state. Most states have fewer restrictions for hemp being grown for paper, construction or textiles made from hemp fiber, she said. Maryland, for example, just updated its hemp regulations on Oct. 30.


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