VERMONT AGENCY OF Agriculture hemp program chief Timothy Schmalz, left, Vermont Hemp Company CEO Joel Bedard and local farmer Sam Berthiaume stand in a field of hemp being grown in Middlebury by Berthiaume and his cousin Joel Pomainville in 2017.
Independent file photo/Trent Campbell
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal hemp regulations that were scheduled to go into effect at the end of this month have been delayed for a year, according to the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
The hemp rules, which were written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would have set the THC limit for industrial hemp at only 0.3%, which is vastly more restrictive than Vermont current regulations, which set the limit at 1%.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive substance in recreational and medicinal marijuana plants; in occurs naturally in trace amounts in industrial hemp plants.
AFTER AN EXPLOSION of grower registrations last year, Vermont’s hemp industry has gotten off to a rocky start in 2020. Agency of Agriculture officials are hoping that new Hemp Rules will provide much-needed clarity for growers and processors, but some industry stakeholders worry that proposed federal guidelines, which impose greater restrictions, could spell doom for industrial hemp in the Northeast.
Photo courtesy of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture
VERMONT — After the great promise hemp held out for Vermont farmers last year was dashed by poor planting weather, questionable plant genetics, limited drying and processing capacity, and the occasional dodgy contract, state officials are reporting a significant drop in grower registrations this year.
As the 2020 planting season gets under way, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) recently said it has received only 399 grower registrations for 1,177 acres — far short of last year’s 986 registrations for 9,100 acres, though agency officials said that growers are still...
RYE MATTHEWS, CHIEF technology officer at Northeast Hemp Commodities, stopped by Woods Market Garden in Brandon last May to check on the 50,000 hemp seedlings that were destined for a farm in Ferrisburgh. The company planted 185 acres of hemp in Vermont last year but may scale back on planting this year and focus more on its retail arm, Method Organics.
Independent photo/Christopher Ross
MIDDLEBURY — The folks at Northeast Hemp Commodities, who recently moved their offices to Middlebury, have opened their first retail store, Method Organics. Company founders plan to plan to sell CBD, CBG and other hemp-related products at the store on Exchange Street.
The key to their approach is transparency, said Northeast Hemp Commodities Marketing Director Jonathan Gregg.
“We put QR codes on all of our products,” he said. “People can scan them (with their phones) and see exactly what’s in each product.”
Through a process called “batch tracking,” the company can tell its customers about...
SOUTH BURLINGTON — An internationally recognized leader in hemp research and the entrepreneurial founders of a Vermont CBD company will headline the second annual Industrial Hemp Conference, Feb. 20 in South Burlington.
Jay Noller, director of Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, will open the conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton (870 Williston Road) with a keynote talk on hemp and its potential research implications. Luncheon speakers Alejandro Bergad and Jacob Goldstein will share the story of Sunsoil CBD, the company they established in Hardwick in 2015, along with...
WATERBURY — A Middlesex CBD processor was arrested this past Wednesday for allegedly failing to pay local hemp farmers $137,500 for hemp harvested this past summer and fall.
Douglas Bell, owner of CBD-Vermont in Waterbury, allegedly victimized five Vermont farms in Washington and Lamoille counties — Ananda Gardens, Cate Farm, Knoll Farm, Zach Woods Herb Farm and Lisa and Ryan Mase, according to Vermont State Police.
Police say Bell owes 10 more farmers money for hemp harvests. The victims, 15 in all, have suffered cumulative losses of $500,000, police said. VSP said Vergennes police are part...
The use of plastic mulch by hemp growers this past summer brought a new dimension to the Vermont landscape. We have all been aware of ‘ag plastics’ like hay bale coverings and maple sap pipeline for some time, but we assumed the waste plastic would be managed appropriately. Acres of land covered with plastic mulch is something new. It goes against everything I believe about how to treat the land. If I am out hiking or camping and I see plastic on the ground, I pick it up. Loose in any environment it symbolizes carelessness and abuse and I could not suppress those feelings when I saw how much...
PROCESSORS AT LEANING Barn Farm in Bristol feed hemp stems into an industrial “bucker,” which removes the leaves and flowers. Not only can such machines be prohibitively expensive but they can also be hard to find for purchase these days because of the rapid expansion of the hemp industry nationwide. Leaning Barn has remedied this situation in part by building a custom bucking board (not shown).
Independent photo/Christopher Ross
BRISTOL — The industrial hemp harvest has begun.
On a gray chilly day last week in northern Bristol, Eric Durand and John Murphy crisscrossed Route 116 in a red Polaris Ranger, hauling cut hemp plants from fields on the east side of the road to the impromptu processing facility set up by Leaning Barn Farm on the west side.
Durand and Murphy unloaded the harvested plants wherever there was room — on the ground, inside one of the high tunnels or on top of pizza boxes that had been laid out on a makeshift table, the remnants of that day’s lunch.
Leaning Barn Farm planted 45,000 industrial hemp...
EVALYNN HERMANSKI, granddaughter of Sam and Debra Markowski visits her grandfather's farm and poses in front of the hemp planter. Brandon Reporter photo/Russell Jones
PITTSFORD — “Our secret’s out,” grinned Sam Markowski as he surveyed a dirt field full of different farm equipment. “We’re growing hemp up here in Pittsford.”
A close relative of the marijuana plant, hemp looks and smells just like it, but is absent the mind-altering chemicals found in its biological cousin. Hemp also has a wide variety of uses, most notably of late as the main ingredient in products made with CBD (shorthand for the chemical compound “cannabidiol”).
For the Markowskis, the decision to plant hemp came down to one thing. “We wanted the land to stay in the family,” Sam Markowski...