WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - A new crop is on the horizon for Texas farmers with the legalization of hemp production in the 2018 Farm Bill. Farmers still have a lot of questions about the new plant, though.
Texas A&M Agrilife Extension held the Rolling Plains Industrial Hemp Conference today to educate farmers and allow them to get some of those questions answered.
“We’re all excited for anything that we think shows potential profit,” said David Graf, the Wichita County agent for Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “and this, I think, from what the experts are saying, that this will be something that will be profitable to our producers.”
USDA released its interim final rules on hemp production on October 29th, making this the first time farmers and officials were able to come together to discuss and learn more about the crop.
“If we can get hemp production here, I think for our producers it’d be a tremendous asset to us,” said Graf.
“It’s really something all the farmers around here need, is getting this into their rotation cycle,” said Brian Farris. Farris is the chief marketing officer for the Wichita Falls Industrial Hemp Development Company.
But Graf points out that there are still a lot of questions circling hemp when it comes to growing it in Wichita County. Those include: which strain of seed works best in Wichita Falls climate, how to properly harvest it and legal ramifications behind growing the plant.
“We always get one question answered, and then ten more show up,” explained Farris.
All of those unknowns are why Graf said these types of conferences are necessary for farmers. He added that getting to a point where farmers in Texas are yielding successful hemp crops is going to be a slow and complex process.
“It’s just going to take some testing and some research here to do that," said Graf, "but yeah our producers are very excited about having another crop.”
Hemp is still not legal to grow in Texas. The Texas Department of Agriculture still needs to submit a state hemp plan to the USDA. After that, every farmer will need to have a permit to grow hemp in their fields. The TDA expects for their permit approval process to begin next year.