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US (NY): Small hemp growers feel the pinch of regulations

Jeanette Miller says she's one of hundreds of farmers who were encouraged to devote acreage to an up-and-coming crop that held promise, but is now watching it all slip away.

Miller, who operates Eclectic Farmstead on McKee Road in Newfane, said farmers spent upward of $50,000 to cover costs associated with growing hemp and were waiting for the research phase to end so they could sell their products, which include drinks, soaps and lotions.

“We were supposed to be released from being research partners and be able to sell our products,” said Miller, who also serves as vice president of the Niagara County Farm Bureau. “But instead of that happening, (New York state) came out with the Hemp Extract Regulation.”

The new rules had a chilling effect on the small farms and businesses that invested after passage of the federal Agricultural Act of 2014, which allowed schools and farmers to grow the crop for research purposes, and the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, which made the production of hemp legal. It was their work that the hemp industry was built on, Miller said, and now they're being taken out of the picture.


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