(WAFB) - A bill that would allow agricultural producers to grow industrial hemp is being proposed for the upcoming legislative session.
According to a release from representative Clay Schexnayder of District 81, the bill would allow agricultural producers in the state to produce the hemp.
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, or LDAF, would be the agency responsible for this initiative. LDAF would also be in charge pf developing the regulations for the production and sale of industrial hemp and its products. These regulations would then be approval by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) before implementation.
“Industrial hemp is an alternative specialty high value crop with the potential to create new industries and enhance economic development for Louisiana,” Schexnayder said in a prepared statement. “The importance of agriculture in Louisiana increases the need to provide both opportunities to introduce first time producers to agriculture and allow existing producers the opportunity to diversify their farming interests for economic stability options. “
The recently passed Farm Bill defines industrial hemp as cannabis with a THC level below 0.3%. The Farm Bill allowed the hemp product to be removed from the Schedule I list of controlled substances.
If the bill is approved during the 2019 session, industrial hemp would be another available commodity for the state’s agricultural producers, expanding Louisiana’s agricultural market opportunities.
At least 33 states have authorized industrial hemp production, or research initiatives under the 2014 Farm Bill, according to the release .
Louisiana’s climate creates challenges for producers of all commodities. Whether rain, drought, insects or disease, all will be unique factors that need to be addressed.
LSU Vice President for Agriculture, Bill Richardson commented, “The AgCenter’s crop scientists can develop and test industrial hemp varieties that are tolerant to Louisiana conditions and provide high fiber and oilseed for processing.”
This legislation would also allow the state to research industrial hemp.
Legislative session starts April 7.