Ward and Smith Hemp and Cannabis Act lawyers recently attended the fifth Industrial Hemp Summit. After another year of adjustments and uncertainties caused by COVID-19 and other global factors, it was refreshing to once again attend the event in person and spend time reconnecting with businesses and thought leaders from across the spectrum of the hemp industry. Breaking with past tradition, this year’s Industrial Hemp Summit was held at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park. But the fundamentals of the event itself were still the same, and the quality of the event, the venue, the information shared and acquired, and the people attending were excellent.
The USDA Commitment to Hemp
William “Bill” Richmond, head of the US domestic hemp production program at the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), was the keynote speaker at the opening of the conference. It is clear that he and his staff are committed to continued growth and development of a viable domestic market for hemp production in the United States. North Carolina is one of the few Indian states and tribes to turn into USDA controlled hemp production programthis transition taking effect on January 1, 2022. And recent data USDA’s 2021 National Hemp Production Value report reveals that, despite challenges across the country, hemp remains a viable and valuable national crop. In particular, this report indicates that in 2021, North Carolina remained in the top 10 states for hemp acreage and harvested acreage. North Carolina remains an attractive market for the industry, despite the challenges of recent years. It will be interesting to see how North Carolina’s transition to a USDA-led hemp production program will impact these numbers in future reports. The USDA is acutely aware of the need for more industry data to develop more specific, data-driven policies in the future. It will continue to request the two required reports as part of its Final rule for establishing a national hemp production program and voluntary surveys and generation of industry data to help shape informed policy going forward.
As in previous years, panelists and presenters seemed to agree: industry participants and business groups can and must continue to find unity and common ground for collaboration without leaving perfection or competition behind. hinder collective progress. This theme was mentioned repeatedly throughout the two-day conference and was highlighted by the cross section of companies and various business groups in attendance. United States, West Town Bank and Trustand V.F. Corporation financially sponsored the Summit to make the event possible and sent teams of interested and committed people to attend and find new ways to provide support and growth within the industry itself. the National Industrial Hemp Council of America, American Hemp Building Association, North Carolina State UniversityClemson University and other participants from non-profit industry, researchers, regulators and trade groups were also on hand to offer their insights, expertise and support to industry.
Other trends and developments
Cannabinoid and flower production continues to lead the industry today. But this sector of the industry continues to face regulatory uncertainty and most panelists agreed that the FDA is unlikely to create a regulatory pathway to market for hemp-derived cannabinoids in dietary supplements and/or or food and beverages. Minor cannabinoids continue to drive market growth in this industry sector. And a clear divide seems to exist for many in the industry on the question of how intoxicating hemp-derived products, such as Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC and other THC isomeric productsmust be tested, processed and regulated in the market.
But fiber and food applications are making significant progress towards developing the necessary local and regional supply chains. There appears to be a national trend away from floral hemp production and a corresponding increase in fiber and grain processing factories and facilities. Genetics are key and suitable plant varieties have yet to be better identified on a regional basis, but positive gains are being made in this regard. With more time, research trials, and the submission of more detailed and relevant fiber and grain data to state and federal regulatory agencies, there are opportunities for performance-based sampling and discontinuation testing. strict THC compliance for non-floral sectors of the industry. The hemp fiber and grain markets can expect continued growth and development and continued building of the overall supply chain for these markets.
Challenges and risks remain, but the future is still bright for hemp, and the industry is well positioned for continued growth on all fronts. As the legal and regulatory foundations continue to settle and develop, it is imperative that hemp participants of all kinds – cannabinoid, industrial, or other targeted uses – stay abreast of these changes and developments. It is also important for hemp companies to better utilize and adopt common business and legal best practices when entering into agribusiness, transactional and corporate agreements and agreements within the industry. Keep in mind the message of unity and collaboration, and let’s celebrate and support each other’s successes as we work together to move the industry forward for the benefit of all. Ward and Smith Hemp and Cannabis Act The team is committed to contributing to this effort.
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