In this hearing, diverse perspectives illustrated the groundwork and effort that public officials, farmers, business persons, and researchers have pushed. All testimonies had talking points that can be relatable in some shape or form. Dr. Brandy Phipps’s perspective role was represented as an academic researcher and a grant recipient. As a grant recipient of the Sustainable Agricultural Systems award, her team was able to start researching hemp grain as feed for fish. Their research project, SUSHI, in which NHA sits on the external advisory board, would essentially be able to provide science-based evidence that hemp grain can be suitable as feed for livestock. Previous studies on hemp grain as animal feed have shown improved livestock health and, in theory, would benefit humans.
The testimonies mention that hemp grain and fiber should be exempt from current regulations, which supports the core mission behind the Hemp Fiber and Grain Exemption. A definitive separation between a floral and horticulture crop and an industrial crop will treat industrial hemp like a commodity crop. A commodity crop can be used as a rotational crop or grain for feed or industrial and technical uses, opening up more industrial hemp opportunities. Commissioner Quarles endorsed hemp food and industrial uses by promoting hemp heart products and hemp hardwood flooring.
Key points brought up the hardship and deterrent of growing this multi-faceted crop: Equitable access to banking and insurance, financial burdens due to high sampling and testing fees, and uncertainty for the cannabinoid sector due to lack of authority from the FDA. Raising the legal THC limit to 1% to prevent producers from disposing of their crops was echoed, which the NHA supports. Certified seeds were mentioned as a suggestion to the committee as well. Certified hemp seeds are still a wild card as this is a nascent industry in which certified seeds may perform well in one region and not in the other. Research in multiple states, microclimates, and regions should be thoroughly tested before certified hemp seeds are considered. If these issues aren’t addressed, it’ll be difficult to have a stable and secure market for this industry.
Overall, we thank Chairwoman Plaskett, Ranking Member Baird, and the subcommittee of Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research for holding the first type of hearing for hemp. Most importantly, we thank the diverse panel of witnesses who testified on behalf of the industry.
To view the full hearing, please click here.
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Anna Chanthavongseng – Assistant Executive of National Hemp Association