AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Industrial hemp will now be a market Texas farmers can explore in the state.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill legalizing the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp in Texas this week. Federal changes through the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of Schedule I substances, paving the way for states to form state-regulated industrial hemp programs.
House Bill 1325, led by Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville, and Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, allows farmers to grow industrial hemp under a state-regulated program. The bill also legalizes hemp-derived products like CBD oil. Hemp and its by-products contain less than 0.3% THC, unlike marijuana.
“The hemp industry is rapidly growing and we need to ensure our farmers are able to participate. We hope this agricultural commodity will help boost rural communities now that there is a new viable crop option for our farmers,” Perry previously said in a statement when the bill passed the Senate.
The bill requires the Texas Department of Agriculture to submit a plan to the United States Department of Agriculture outlining the state’s plan for monitoring and regulating the production of hemp. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is a supporter of industrial hemp production as a possible market for farmers in the state.
“This crop can be a true game-changer for our agriculture community and rural communities,” the Texas Hemp Industries Association said in a statement online.
The Texas Farm Bureau agrees.
“Texas Farm Bureau is very pleased with the passage and signing of the hemp bill,” Gene Hall, director of communications, said. “Hemp is a crop that should grow well in Texas and has multiple uses. It is already grown in more than 40 states. This will give Texas farmers and ranchers another crop option. This is especially important now, with a struggling farm economy.”