The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) recently held a series of workshops on the status of an industrial hemp industry in Florida. Since the passage of the 2018 farm bill, growers throughout the state have been wondering how and when they can begin producing the crop.
The question-and-answer meetings were designed to address uncertainties and introduce a draft version of Florida’s rules for the new industry. Each state will submit its hemp plan for approval to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA is hoping to be ready to accept those plans this fall.
According to Charles LaPradd, agricultural manager for Miami-Dade County, the first hemp meeting, held in South Florida, filled the room. “We want to make sure they (FDACS) get it (the rules) right as we look at this,” he said. “We want to be able to get in as soon as we can.”
LaPradd believes Florida will have a unique opportunity in the hemp industry given its warm climate in the winter months. He is hoping this new industry may be a light at the end of the tunnel for growers in South Florida struggling to compete against hefty competition from Mexico. “Everybody has interest in this, and we want to see where we can go with it,” he says.
Hear LaPradd’s full interview with AgNet Media Founder and President Gary Cooper:
Jerry Fankhauser, assistant director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, also attended the first hemp meeting in South Florida. He said it was a great forum for potential growers and other industry stakeholders to hear from FDACS agents regarding their plan for permits.
Fankhauser commended Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried for her efforts in creating a Florida hemp industry thus far. “She said she wants hemp to be an important ag commodity in the state of Florida,” he said. “I think that the way these hemp rules are looking, it may in fact accomplish that.”
Fankhauser has been working closely with the University of Florida’s hemp pilot program and with experts from North Carolina and Kentucky, where an industrial hemp industry has already been created. He invites growers to attend the Florida Ag Expo on Nov. 21 at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, which will feature a panel of hemp experts. Visit FloridaAgExpo.net for more information on the event and to view the full educational program.
Listen to Fankhauser’s full interview with Cooper: