The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs has had more than 800 applications to cultivate hemp in the state under the first year of its enhanced pilot program, according to the Roanoke Times. Ag Department spokesperson Elaine Lidholm said cultivators plan on growing more than 8,500 acres of hemp throughout the state.
Lidholm told the Times that applicants include both veteran farmers looking to diversify their crops and revenue streams, and first-time farmers interested specifically in hemp.
“We know it’s creating a lot of interest, we know that hopefully it will help farmers add that extra revenue stream. It certainly appears to have some possibilities for Virginia agriculture.” – Lidholm to the Times
Virginia has had a pilot program since 2015 but it was a strictly controlled research program as hemp remained on the federal drug schedule. Last year, the federal government legalized hemp and in March the Virginia Legislature approved new rules and regulations to conform with the federal changes. However, states that have passed hemp reform laws in the wake of federal action are still awaiting program approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture before they can make the programs permanent.
Last week, Virginia hemp farmers were notified by the state Ag Department that it would treat all hemp-derived extracts, including CBD, as approved food additives and place CBD processors under food safety inspection so their products could be sold in the state for human consumption.
In a letter to the state’s registered hemp growers, Ag Commissioner Jewel H. Bronaugh, indicated she was reversing her agencies previous guidance on CBD after pushback from farmers, noting that regulating the product is needed as “it appears unlikely that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will act in the near future to provide a regulatory framework” for CBD.
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