Matt Houston October 21, 2019
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Farmers could begin growing industrial hemp by the spring of 2020 if the state and federal departments of agriculture continue to hammer out logistics at their current pace, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain said Monday, Oct. 21.
Strain presented a federally-required hemp production rule book in a joint meeting of the Louisiana legislature’s committees on agriculture. LDAF intends to send the proposed rules to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must approve the state’s policy.
Congress legalized the production of hemp in the 2018 farm bill, excepting the industrial plant from a list of illicit drugs. Hemp is a cousin to marijuana, but a person would drown in hemp product before it produced a high.
“I know there’s a full-court press to get this done,” Strain said. “We have all these timetables.”
The feds must first write their own rules for hemp’s growth before it accepts Louisiana’s additional regulations. Strain says he expects the USDA’s policy to be finished in November, meaning Louisiana could begin issuing farmers permits to grow the lucrative plant by New Year’s Day.
Because the cannabis plant does well in arid climates, lawmakers are hoping Louisiana can become a leader in hemp production. Experts expect Louisiana farmers would be able to harvest at least two hemp crops annually.
“Every farmer won’t dive into this, because it is labor intensive,” Rep. Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, said. “But I do think the ones that do get involved in it, it will pay off for them.”