We asked Tom Dermody, vice president of operations for Bija Hemp in Denver, Colo., some pressing questions about hemp seed regulation and availability:
Q: What are the steps that need to happen to get enough certified seed in the U.S.?
A: Under the 2014 Farm Bill, the Association of Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) didn’t believe there was enough commercial interest to convene the Variety Review Board. Following the 2018 Farm Bill, the process has begun, and we are eagerly awaiting updates and opportunities on this fundamental aspect of establishing the trials and certification process.
Meanwhile, land grant institutions need to start running variety trials so that seed breeders will feel comfortable with legal entitlement to breed. Once there’s demonstrated efficacy to a specific variety and region, seed can be scaled into a certified variety, like any other crop commodity.
Also, there needs to be a coordinated effort to align existing supply chain means with specific varieties of hemp. For example, fiber hemp varieties have more value in the south because there are abundant fiber outlets, whereas in the Midwest, grain will have a higher value because of existing grain processors.
Q: From a regulatory standpoint, where are we and where do we need to be?
A: Now that hemp has been defined as an agricultural commodity at the federal level, it should have access to the same services as any other commodity crop. However, the rulemaking process assigned to that statutory declaration is not yet finalized, which creates frictions and related risk.
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