Florida's legislature has taken a significant step towards building an industrial hemp industry here in our state. In a refreshing bipartisan effort, Florida lawmakers almost unanimously approved a bill to establish an industrial hemp program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The historic vote took place on May 3, 2019. Of the 113 members of the legislature, only one voted against the bill. This vote indicates the bipartisan feeling of excitement that permeates the legislature, reflecting the desire of Floridians all across the state that are ready to start participating in a booming new industry.
Industrial hemp is an incredibly valuable crop that has been cultivated for thousands of years. It has many uses, including being a key component in building materials that can be used to build more environmentally-friendly homes across the nation. Hemp can also be useful in food production, fiber production, oil extraction and much more.
In 2014, a farm bill gave research allowances for the study of hemp by universities and other scientific institutions. The University of Florida is currently conducting research on hemp production through the Institute of Food and Agricultural Services. This research aims at assisting Florida's farmers with the transition into commercial hemp production. Many different varieties will be grown in three regional trial plot locations, Quincy, Apopka and Homestead this year. This research is part of the growing effort within the agricultural community towards generating a healthy hemp industry that will boost the economy within the state.
Following a federal law passed last year that legalized the production of industrial hemp, Florida’s agriculturists believe that hemp production may be essential in revitalizing Florida’s agricultural sector and bringing exciting business opportunities to our state.
The bill passed on Friday would create a hemp program that would provide regulations that lay out a blueprint for the new industry. The hemp program would give insight into the process of how hemp producers would be required to have licenses and the steps that they would take to follow the new regulations. If approved by Governor DeSantis, the bill passed by the Florida Legislature could be instrumental in the future of Florida’s agriculture. Once approved on the state level, the Florida Department of Agriculture will present their plan to the USDA who then has 90 days to approve.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried believes that “Florida is now on the verge of establishing a state hemp program and creating a multibillion-dollar industry...Floridians want access to safe, tested cannabis and CBD. With this bill, our department can make those goals a reality and transform our economy.”
About Carson Futch
Carson Futch is an associate broker with Saunders Real Estate, specializing in land properties with a focus on all types of agricultural properties and development land. Carson has been recently been appointed to serve on the UF/ IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project Advisory Group. Learn more about Carson at sreland.com/carsonfutch.