NC Industrial Hemp Assoc. Gathering Support

Farmer harvesting industrial hemp. Source: NC Industrial Hemp Association, ncindhemp.org
Farmer harvesting industrial hemp. Source: NC Industrial Hemp Association, ncindhemp.org

Industrial Hemp Farming Still Grounded in NC

By Kay Whatley

The North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association (NCIHA) has been gathering funds to start the state’s new Industrial Hemp Commission. As soon as the association raises $200,000, the commission can begin setting procedures and informing farmers.

That goal of $200,000 was built into the hemp farming rules by the NC Legislature. When the NC legislators wrote Senate Bill 313 (SB313), they included language that required $200,000 in private funds be raised to cover the first year of costs for running the Industrial Hemp Commission —  before policies could be written or NC farmers could start growing.

The Industrial Hemp Commission will be part of the NC Department of Agriculture. The state has similar Commissions for other crops, such as the Tobacco Research Commission.  A Commission’s role includes setting policies, procedures, licensing, and annual planning.

According to the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), from the 2015 legislation to actual farming has several steps in between:

  • Funding has to be obtained to create the commission.
  • Appointment of the 5-member commission is needed, with each board member needing to pass an “ethics review” process.
  • Then, the Commission will propose permanent rules, which the NC Board of Agriculture has to adopt, then send to the Rules Review Commission and opened for public comment before the rules are finalized.
  • Finally, farmers can apply for a permit to participate in the state “Pilot Project” and — once permitted — may start to grow industrial hemp.

In addition to fundraising taking time — about 25% of the legislated amount has been raised over 5-6 months — those steps look like they will take time too. For example, within the commission member appointment, an ethics review of appointees is planned.  Also, once the Commission does exist and can do its job, the NC Board of Agriculture will evaluate/review/change rules which will cost more time.

While the NCIHA is hopeful to complete the fundraising soon, and be able to help farmers get planting in 2017, the amount of time needed to navigate the state administrative hurdles and red tape are hard to estimate.

According to Warren Williams, NCIHA, “We are above the $50,000 but not substantially. We have the ability to get seeds in the ground for 2017 but likely not this year based upon the time it would take to establish the rules and procedures.”

The short version is: the sooner you donate, the sooner farmers can plant.

To support industrial hemp farming in NC, visit the NCIHA website to learn more and make a donation: ncindhemp.org.

Those who donate now can “pledge” their amount of tax-deductible donation. The Promise Pledge funds will not be collected until the $200,000 amount is reached. If that amount is not reached by December 31, 2016, farmers will not be allowed to start growing industrial hemp in NC.

Until fundraising reaches that $200,000 goal, NC industrial hemp farming is legal, but on hold.

Anyone donating to the commission/association will receive direct instruction about the License Application Procedure Process (LAP Process) once established by the commission via the NCIHA. Joining the association as a Member ($250) can get you on the list to receive updates, and eventually farming information for those interested in Pilot Project participation.

The benefits of joining the NCIHA include:

  1. Professional coaching on hemp, where to concentrate your efforts (fiber, seed and/or oil) and potential profits.
  2. NCIHA networking contacts including industry experts and key members of NC commerce to facilitate sales of your crop or product.
  3. Lowering your tax bill.
  4. Helping establish a new industry in North Carolina.
  5. Access to superior genetics and/or technologies dependent on your specific interest.
  6. NC Industrial Hemp Association newsletter.
  7. Immediate legislative updates regarding hemp.
  8. Free entry into the NCIHA conference(s).

Additional information on the Promise Pledge and other hemp related material can be found on the FAQ’s page.

For more information, visit ncindhemp.org/projects.html. As it states on their website, the NC Industrial Hemp Association has just one project now: raising funds required by the NC legislators.

To read more about the NC Senate Bill 313 (SB313), visit the NC Legislation website.

Or read more about the Farm Bill of 2014 that allows industrial hemp in the US: www.votehemp.com/PR/2014-02-07-vh_farm_bill_signed.html.

 

Ed. Note: See The Grey Area news’ January 16, 2016, article on industrial hemp here.

                    To see information on the upcoming Industrial Hemp Information Session April 19, 2016, read this article.

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About Kay Whatley 2300 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.