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Like all farmers attempting to grow hemp for a profit, the terrain remains murky. Getting battered from all fronts, the most complicated is the political end. U.S. agriculture officials allow farmers to legally grow hemp, which requires licensing, maintaining records on the land where hemp will be grown, testing the levels of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana that causes a high — and disposing plants that don’t meet the requirements. Lots of noise to make a living!

A primary element is not the growing of hemp, but to make sure the “crop is hemp and not marijuana,” even though the seed is clearly identified as hemp.

What the difference between hemp and marijuana?

From the perspective of the FDA, it is the level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. Above 3% THC in the hemp plant, the federal government transforms it to the infamous, and illegal marijuana plant. Forget the basic structures of the hemp plant, etc. All other factors are irrelevant.

Without effective testing, growers of hemp are at the mercy of the THC MONSTER.

At Northridge Corporation, we planned to provide growers with peace of mind at the lowest cost possible. Our subsidiary Greenmark Cryptographics and Testing Labs (GCTL) plans to analyze THC levels in hemp plants during the growing cycle and follow “the crop” in whatever form to its final destination. Our THC testing and hemp tracking programs are the solution. Using the original testing sequences in the field as the hemp crop matures, the first chain to the link begins the expanding list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. This last factor allows for accuracy, timely history and the movement of hemp at any level; important to law enforcement whatever the brand.

Now for the rest of HEMP FARMERS NEWS.

Jumping into hemp growing may not be a simple task for traditional farmers.

Minnesota Hemp farmer and owner of Paw Paw Hemp Co., David Connor said growing 26 acres of hemp this year was labor intensive with planting, harvesting and drying all done by hand. New equipment is coming out that will ease some of the manual labor, he said, but it’s not as easy as growing row crops like corn and soybeans.

CBD, a compound found in the hemp plant, is used in a wide assortment of foods and as pain relievers, as well as for other medical conditions. Extracting it is legal in some states but not others. And in April, the Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to companies for making unapproved health claims about CBD products.

Some farmers may not find it profitable to grow for the CBD market. For example, farmers in Iowa where CBD extraction is not legal would have to ship their plants elsewhere for CBD oil extraction. Those who hope to grow for the industrial hemp market for products that could replace plastic or for fiber may find scarce buyers. “I am only aware of three active fiber plants, two in Kentucky and one in North Carolina,” said Robin Pruisner, a state entomologist who’s focused on hemp production for the Iowa Department of Agriculture. “We need that infrastructure for processing and manufacturing to evolve for it to become a long-term viable crop.”

NEED TO REPEAT: “We need that infrastructure for processing and manufacturing to evolve for it to become a long-term viable crop.” Since day one, we preached that fact. Most farmers missed the point at the peril.

Our advice for hemp farmers it to have a signed contract from a buyer before they begin production.

Some states have grown hemp on a smaller scale under the 2014 farm bill pilot program. The 2018 law removed industrial hemp from the list of illegal drugs and required the USDA to set up a national hemp growing program. The rule establishes testing of plants that must be done in a Drug Enforcement Administration-registered laboratory, raising initial concerns that could create a bottleneck in the process if there aren’t enough labs available.

Iowa, for example, currently has just one state laboratory that will do the testing.

Northridge Corporation plans to have a GCTL type certified facility in Iowa during the first quarter of 2020.

USDA officials say nationally there are 130 labs and the agency may allow private labs to become certified for hemp testing.

Sampling must be conducted within 15 days of harvest by a sampling firm or law enforcement agent, the rule says. The concentration of THC must be below 0.3%. Plants measuring too high must be destroyed. At least 47 states have passed laws to establish hemp production programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Exceptions include South Dakota, Idaho and Mississippi.

“We will use the 2020 growing season as a chance to test drive the interim rule to guide any adjustments that are made in the final rule,” said Greg Ibach, the USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said farmers should speak up if they have suggestions. Ibach said about 120,000 acres of hemp was grown under the federal pilot program rule in 2018. He said he’s seen estimates of 500,000 acres grown this year.

From our analytics and supporting database, our figures agree to the estimate of 500,000 acres of hemp being grown in the US, but the farmers appeared to have lost money, on average, with most admitting to " a steep learning curve."

As we repeatedly said, "A monkey can grow hemp; a simple crop with limited care; it's a weed. You know how weeds grow! But what do you do with it?

The USDA hasn’t tracked hemp acres, so the figures are only estimates, Ibach said. It will begin to collect data on acres planted like it does for other major crops grown in the U.S. next year. “We have already seen a large growth in hemp production in the United States,” he said. “I think the experience that producers have this fall with harvesting their crop, handling their crop, finding buyers for their crop is going to be very instructive as to whether or not we see continued growth in the hemp industry or whether or not producers take a step back.” Nothing new here!

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