Potential Hemp Farmers
Over the past several years as row crop prices declined, farmers and landowners across the nation have searched for alternative crops that might improve the financial bottom line. With the passage of the 2014 and 2018 farm bills, industrial hemp became one of those possible alternative crops. The 2014 farm bill established industrial hemp (hemp with a tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of 0.3% or less) as a potential crop, separating it from its illegal relative, marijuana. The 2018 farm bill removed hemp from the list of controlled substances and established hemp as an agricultural commodity, including the provision of crop insurance for hemp. While the farm bills cleared federal hurdles for hemp, it is still up to each state to pass laws legalizing the crop and to submit a plan to the USDA outlining the state regulations and laws guiding hemp production, testing, licensing, and transport. Iowa has passed a law to legalize hemp and our state plan was accepted by the USDA on March 20, 2020.
Hemp is a versatile crop that can be grown for seed, fiber, or oil. Hemp seed has potential as a food or feed product, but the food or feed products must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food products and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for feed products. Currently, hemp seed and hemp seed oil can be utilized in food products.