Updated: Jan 16, 2019
On Tuesday, August 23 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it would allow the certification of industrial hemp crops grown through state pilot programs in accordance with Section 7606 of the Farm Bill. This means Kentucky can certify and sell organic hemp.
This also means new markets for hemp farmers and processors. Now companies seeking to produce certified organic hemp foods and body care products can finally purchase organic hemp derivatives grown right here in the United States, including companies like Dr. Bronner’s and Nutiva that have promised to source American produced hemp once it’s readily available.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps can be found in almost any body care isle, all of which contain organic hemp seed oil. For years CEO David Bronner has been a leading advocate for the U.S. hemp industry, funding groups like the Hemp Industries Association, Vote Hemp and the Hemp History Week initiative.
In addition to his national contributions, Bronner has also been generous to the hemp industry here in Kentucky, as he donated initial funding to form the Kentucky Hemp Commission in 2012. The photo above shows David attending the first commission meeting with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. All of these efforts resulted in the hemp pilot program and progress across the nation.
Just this February, CEO of Nutiva John Rulac joined Kentuckians at a GoOrganic! Conference to announce his promise to purchase all of the organically produced hempseed the state could provide!
“Demand for certified organic foods is growing. We look forward to sourcing organic hemp from Kentucky farmers,” Roulac said.
This is an exciting opportunity for organic farmers who are approved to participate under the Kentucky hemp pilot program and in those states also conducting Section 7606 compliant research. Unfortunately, it is unclear how states like Colorado, Maine and Vermont with federally non-compliant hemp programs will be effected. The policy strictly notes:
"For hemp produced in the United States, only industrial hemp, produced in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill, as articulated in the Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp issued on August 12, 2016 by USDA, may be certified as organic, if produced in accordance with USDA organic regulations."
The recent statement made by the DEA clarified that all industrial hemp production must fall under at Section 7606 pilot program conducted through state departments of agriculture or universities, meaning that these states are not complying with federal law. This is devastating to those producing hemp crops in the states listed above, as they're technically considered "illegal" despite being approved state approved and meeting the 0.3% or less THC guideline.
While it's clear the U.S. hemp industry is still very much in its infancy, this is a positive step toward a commercial industry. The fact that the government is willing to certify hemp as anything other than an illegal drug is a huge move. Too bad the DEA can’t get on the same page and reconsider its stance on cannabis and remove it from the Controlled Substances Act!
Despite federal law and DEA drama, Kentuckians holding MOU’s under the hemp pilot program now have the opportunity to produce organic hemp, fulfilling contracts for the prominent hemp companies like Dr. Bronner’s and Nutiva who have long awaited this progress! We hope this huge step forward continues to motivate the expansion of the U.S. hemp industry.