With the legalization of hemp in the US, it is said to boost different industries and agriculture. Colorado, being the leader in acreage devoted to hemp farming in the US for the last two years, has the real head start for the industry and can make Colorado the winner in the game. However, it will fall on the shoulders of Kate Greenberg, the new Director of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, to lead the state.
The expectations with the plant are high. The list of responsibilities includes directing and managing the state’s industrial hemp projects. There are a lot of challenges involved from the federal regulations to fierce domestic competition. It is all due to the legalization of industrial hemp farming at the federal level. So, to provide some insight into the future of hemp in Colorado, Greenberg has shared the state’s goals for the plant.
According to Greenberg, she did not know much about the plant before her placement but she is learning swiftly. However, she is more than familiar with hemp policy matters as her previous project, the National Young Farmers Coalition involved agriculture policy through the Farm Bill.
Colorado Farmers and Hemp Education
On the matter of educating farmers regarding hemp farming and federal laws, Greenberg explains that farming is farmers’ livelihood and they have been growing different things for years. So, they know how to grow hemp and the state regulations they must follow. She further told that there is so much excitement and hope related to this industry that many people without farming skills are joining the force. So, it covers all the aspects of hemp farming expertise, both how to grow the plant and to navigate on federal laws.
However, the state is focusing on developing a certainty about the regulatory framework for farmers because the producers are experiencing regulatory uncertainty as hemp is a whole new industry.
Hot Hemp And Colorado
On the subject of state certified hemp seeds for farmers, she replies that certification of the seeds is of the essence. The whole idea behind the hemp industry is to grow plants and end products that contain 0.3% THC or less. This requires certainty about the crops you are growing and can’t just put in whatever seeds you get. So, certified seeds ensure that certainty and enable you to harvest your crops.
On the question on hot hemp (hemp above 0.3% of THC level) being an issue in Colorado, Greenberg adds that the state and the producers have definitely encountered this problem. However, Colorado CHAMP [Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan] program has been developed to solve the issue. There are so many questions about the crop that are yet to be answered. Questions like interstate transport and how the Department of Public Safety to determine what hemp is and what is not. The initiative enables us to have conversations across state agencies, institutions of higher education, with industries and other entities. It allows us to explore different options for producers.
Different states across the US have banned hemp farming due to the bad actors. Colorado is also facing the issues of the black market and illegal grows. That is why we have partnered with DPS and 10 other state agencies. The agencies include the Office of Economic Development and International Trade to control these problems. We also ensure as much help as we can and coordinate on every level.
Colorado is Ahead of Hemp Farming Game
Greenberg has clarified the state’s lead in hemp farming with Colorado being the first to have hemp projects in the country while there are only a few all across the US. While states are developing plans after the legalization, Colorado is five years ahead. The state has experience with the certification of the hemp seeds, has been working with producers and universities. The state has also been handling registrations and inspections all before hemp’s legalization.
Hemp is now a national industry and we have no desire to keep it to Colorado boarders only. We have CHAMP which is open source and provide our expertise to other states. Beside Champ, we are working to get our state plan into the USDA. The program gets us into partnership with USDA and establishes the state as a resource. We are also working to make sure that our programs and plans align with federal and USDA. Then there is another bigger CHAMP program for Colorado’s industry future and will take hemp farming beyond Farm Bill. So, we are in full swing to maintain our leadership in this realm.
Plus the state’s climate and soil are excellent for hemp farming. We have got both indoor and outdoor grows. Colorado has a dry climate and hemp does not require much water. So, its good for us but we are also working on developing a sustainable hemp industry.