09 Jul Will Standards Help Mitigate Risk for Hemp Farmers?
In a recent discussion of industry thought leaders, our round table discussion took a deeper dive into standards for hemp farmers and other considerations, as we look at today’s hemp crops and the resulting CBD products.
PCM: Let’s consider the seed that’s planted. We know there’s genetics and great science behind a seed to be planted. When we look at farmers, they’ve got choices to make about what they actually plant. What plant do they grow and why? How do standards help farmers have a reliable crop they can grow predictably and mitigate risks?
Joy Beckerman: To answer the question about what role do or should standards play in a farmer’s decision to plant hemp over another crop, I think it’s important to understand that good agricultural practices and standards already exist for all crops. Whether you’re farming corn, wheat, sorghum, hay, certainly things that are human consumption and animal consumption, there are very high standards. It’s nothing new that hemp will also have standards. In fact, really, the only difference around hemp for those standards for human consumptions would be cannabinoid quantification because where we are already wanting to test for heavy metals, pesticides, and micro toxins. But cannabinoid quantification is what makes the hemp plant unique from other crops.
Then, the decision that a farmer makes isn’t really based on standards. It’s based on, is there a market for my crop? Is there nearby infrastructure for my crop? Is there value here, more value than the crops that I’m already planting? There are many factors – and a key one is simply will it grow and does my soil need to be rebuilt? Is my soil good enough to grow hemp? Hemp is a hungry crop. We really do need our best soil, particularly when we are growing for human consumption because, as Marielle said, this is a bio accumulator. We may also use the word phytoremediation. It will uptake contaminants and heavy metals and so on, in soil. Soil is a big factor too.
Increasing Compliance and Consistency in Farming
Chris Stubbs: Let’s think about the farmers and genetics. Genetics are the first pillar of how this informs the rest of production and processing. It starts on the farm. The farmers want to be compliant and consistent. They want to be able to understand the risks involved, to mitigate those risks the best way possible. When you try to liken this to other very predictable crops, there’s still a lot to be desired.
We need to start with best practices, transparency and traceability. We’re all coming to a much better understanding of how to implement best practices and standards for hemp farmers so everybody’s successful and our efforts are sustainable over the long term. The only way to do that is to take a ground zero approach with those same very people – the farmers – and empower them to come to the table and be successful with us. We’re just getting started but I think there’s a lot of early alignment and people are really excited to jump onboard and take the best next steps for future years and generations.
Marielle Weintraub: Hemp is an agricultural product that provides a novel cash crop to small family farms. It can be grown in a small amount of acreage for a decently large return and this crop has helped to relieve some of the increasing costs of growing traditional crops, like the equipment and technology costs that you have to pay in order to grow things like corn and soybeans. It’s a nice relief for farmers who have smaller acreage to give up, but a larger return on their agricultural crops.
Standards for Hemp Farmers Improve Crop Compliance
Steve Bevan: I’ve spoken with even thousands of farmers around Kentucky and the nation, and they’re all interested in compliance. Nobody wants to grow noncompliant crops. As Marielle said, they understand there is a patchwork of regulation all around the nation. The development and evolution of standards via the US Hemp Authority is significantly important because it allows the farmers to start making one to one comparisons.
Right now, we have genetics and farming practices that are all over the map: different standards for fiber, different standards for seeds, different standards for floral material, and they’re all evolving, so the area of error and misunderstanding is very large. The ability to define or write out a new taxonomy or lexicon around these terms and to evolve the standards really matters. Farmers want to be able to make a one to one comparison with their corn, beans, tobacco, so they can decide. Do these genetics work well in my area? It’s critically important for them to know.
ValidCare is committed to the implementation of standards. With the development and adoption of standards, everyone involved in the industry – from supplier to consumer – can achieve their goals. We aim to provide our clients with data driven solutions to advance research, product development and commercialization of cannabis derived products to improve human and animal health. ValidCare is working to reveal insights from global communities to fuel healthier generations.
This blog post includes excerpts from a recent webinar featuring key industry leaders(1), who came together for a round table discussion on Why Standards Matter.
(1) Round Table Discussion Participants:
- Steve Bevan, President, GenCanna Global
- Joy Beckerman, Regulatory Officer and Industry Liaison, Elixinol; President, Hemp Industries Association
- Robert Kaufmann, Director of Research, Shaman Botanicals
- Christopher Stubbs, Chief Science Officer, GenCanna Global
- Marielle Weintraub PhD, US Hemp Authority