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Buy Texas Hemp will connect Texas growers with buyers

One of the largest challenges any aspiring hemp farmer faces is identifying a buyer for their harvested crop. In the wake of last year’s harvest, hemp is rotting in storage across the nation, largely because growers didn’t line up buyers. 

Today, in an effort to mitigate this challenge, Texas Hemp Growers launched a new campaign in support of Texas’ future hemp farmers.

BUY TEXAS HEMP is a campaign to connect Texas’ growers with wholesale buyers of biomass, crudes, distillates, isolates, flower, grain and fiber. 

BUY TEXAS HEMP is our statement that Texas’ hemp industry is open for business,” said Zachary Maxwell, president of Texas Hemp Growers. “We want to create vertical integration between farmers, processors, and buyers, so that everyone makes a respectable profit.”

Coupled with the slogan is a new logo–which will replace the current Texas Hemp Growers logo from here forward–and a website specifically branded for the purpose: www.BuyTexasHemp.org

Texas Hemp Growers will invest heavily into the campaign — spending thousands advertising the brand to both in and out-of-state markets.

As Texas Hemp Growers quickly closes in on 100 members in a matter of months, it’s actively developing answers to this major challenge.

“Our members understand the priority of solving the buyer question, before investing large sums into a hemp operation,” Maxwell said. “We want to make sure our growers are taken care of, and have a roadmap to success.”

With recent USDA approval of its hemp rules, Texas is expected to open up license applications to farmers in March. Done responsibly, and with strong support from the state, Texas farmers could potentially have product ready by the third quarter of 2020. 

BUY TEXAS HEMP is an effort to establish long-term, mutually beneficial purchase arrangements between Texas sellers and buyers for future biomass, oils, and other raw materials. 

Interested parties should visit www.BuyTexasHemp.org and complete the contact form.

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A&M’s Dr. Calvin Trostle Reviews Hemp Study Plans for 2020

(Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

New ground is being broken, and tale-tale signs of a blossoming industry are springing up all around the state. It’s an exciting time not only for investors, growers, and consumers – but whole new waves of research possibilities will come crashing into Texas’ “green” shores as well, bearing tidings of comfort (and hopefully funding) to restless researchers ready and waiting to take a crack at hemp.

But before they get it in the labs, they’ve got to get it in the ground. Before they get it in the ground – and unfortunately this holds true even for would-be arbiters on the matter at Texas A&M – they’ve got to get a license. Dr. Calvin Trostle, Extension Agronomist with the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences has been doing all he can to prepare for hemp season within the parameters the present law allows. He’s made several trips to Colorado and New Mexico and visited with farmers and colleagues experienced in growing hemp to gather what information he may for the big inception of the Lone Star State into the world of hemp.

“I think that for now corn should be a potential proxy for hemp, based on what we’ve learned from others,” he said. “I haven’t tested that, and none of my colleagues have tested that. That is the rule of thumb as a basic guideline that might be comparable.”

HEMP CLASS: Dr. Trostle will be on the Expert Panel at our Jan. 18 Master Class in Lubbock CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

Given this recommendation, there is some concern over the licensing process.

“If our buddy at TDA says we aren’t going to review applications until mid-March, then if you were doing hemp in Corpus Christie that review wouldn’t even be started until your supposed optimum window for planting would be closed.”

Of course, the optimal date will vary by location. It is evident, however, that hemp plants do not respond well to hot conditions.

“I’ve seen fields where they didn’t plant until early June, and they had a trainwreck. It was a real bummer. I think it was just too hot by that time.”

“If I’m doing a planting date study,” Trostle entertains, “then I would probably have at least four different dates that I would plant. If we were going to pick three sites I’d say let’s do one at Corpus Christi, one at Temple, and one at Lubbock. You kind of represent different areas of the state where you think hemp may be grown.”

He’ll weigh each control with a different variety, “maybe a fiber line, and a grain line  to see how they perform and establish.”

Initial funding, Trostle believes, will dictate the direction of his research. He estimates much will be related to line resilience, and identifying favorable varieties for CBD or other cannabinoid content, grain, or fiber.

Which seeds will be best adapted to Texas and its varying conditions?

“A lot of these so called varieties for CBD or other cannabinoids are really not that far removed from marijuana. Some of them are not vigorous plants. Their background is being grown in cool forests in northern California or greenhouses with a controlled environment. Pick your location.

Collin County. Lubbock County. Corpus Christie. it’s going to be something to see how a lot of these varieties – and the big concern is that some of them are not pure – how they perform under field conditions.”

Dr. Trostle has a few hemp workshops planned around the state through the A&M Agrilife Extension Program with a focus on identifying a good seed source, as well as which contractors to work with and who to sell to. He says, for now there’s at least one thing to be sure of:

“It looks like there’s a lot of different ways to grow hemp.”

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Member Spotlight: Greg Fowler and daughter, Stacy, prepare to sow seeds of personal wellness

Greg Fowler and his daughter Stacy Fowler

Texans from all walks of life have made plans to capitalize on the new USDA rules regarding hemp cultivation. Whether they are borrowing funds from a family nest-egg or diverging large amounts of corporate capital into the project, the prospect of a new potentially booming industry in Texas is for some a weighted risk too alluring to ignore.

Two among the early hopefuls are Greg Fowler and his daughter Stacy. Greg is a husband, father, and cattle rancher from a traditional lot in Madison County where Stacy, who is anything but ordinary, has spent the last several years of her adolescent life on a journey of personal well-being in what the Fowler family describes as having been a “wild ride”.
Greg and Stacy Fowler

Stacy is seventeen years old, a member of the FFA, and responsible for taking care of her own pig named Houston. Mr. Fowler is sure to rouse her early Saturday mornings to ensure Stacy’s efforts remain uninhibited by teenage un-punctuality. She goes to school, sings in the choir, and plays guitar for her church. Stacy has been taking guitar lessons at a Guitar Center in College Station for the past two years, and plans to study music in college. Her father is supportive, and goes along with the idea – albeit reluctantly.

“He’s trying to convince me to get a degree in plant science, so I can help out a little more… Maybe a minor in plant science,” Stacy affirms.

But all of these promising developments in Stacy’s life are new ones. The Fowlers themselves lend credence to the medical marvel everyone’s been talking about of late, CBD oil. For them, it’s a drug that, “kind of fell out of the sky… It turned our whole life around,” relates a clearly enthralled father detailing the events of his daughter’s transformation.

Fowler continues, “I read about it in an article on the Tourette’s Associations website. When I talked to people they were like, ‘Yeah, for a lot of people that works really well.’”

Stacy Fowler was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome in 2017. Tourette’s is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary motor spasms and vocalizations most commonly associated with spasmodic utterances of foul language. It’s a popular image which – although the severe nature of Stacy’s affectedness constrains her to – she is none to happy with.

“I think there was a South Park episode where it’s just people yelling out a bunch of cuss words and stuff. It’s actually only less than 10% of people with tourette’s have the cursing part of it. I actually have that.”

Symptoms were hinted at early on in Stacy’s development, but those clues weren’t fitted together until late in junior high when her random interval tics started to become a full-on everyday occurrence.

“She would just shrug her shoulders and shake her head for a second.” remembers Fowler. “It wasn’t noticeable to people who weren’t around her all the time. She would have her hands in weird, contorted positions, and she would always be really fidgety with her fingers… Her head kind of always tilted to one side and shook a lot. Throw in saying ‘Snickers’ 300 times a day…”

“Snickers” was Stacy’s most common involuntary vocal pronouncement.

It was around that time the Fowler’s family doctor referred Stacy to her first neurologist. There the family faced a common trial amongst those who suffer similar disorders. Stacy’s tics wouldn’t surface in the doctor’s office! Eventually though, she was diagnosed with Transient Tic Disorder, and later full on Tourette’s as more and more evidence was made clear.

In the meanwhile, Stacy started her first year of high school. She attended classes for a couple weeks before being labeled disruptive and removed.

“The school kept trying to tell us they couldn’t handle her,” explains Stacy’s dad.

She then attended class via a mobile webcam set-up called “the robot”.

Stacy’s doctors prescribed her a host of different pharmaceuticals to regulate her symptoms none of which worked – along with a slew of drugs to ease the side-effects that the other medications caused. It’s a common concern deserving of rebuke from the masses – the lack of personalized doctoral care available and perceived financial incentive for legislative bodies cosigning with big pharmaceuticals fundamentally depriving consumers of safer, less-costly, and often better-fairing alternative medicine.

Greg amends, “Stacy was on the harshest stuff.” When he read about the effectiveness of CBD oil of Tourette’s combined with the near nil side effects, (also despite it being then illegal in the state of Texas) with his daughter’s best interest in mind, he knew it was worth a shot.

“Now, you can hardly tell she has anything. Sometimes she gets busy and doesnt take her medicine on a good schedule and it will definitely show but she’s not as bad as she was.”

In times of forgetfulness Stacy’s tics will reemerge, small shakes and minor clicking sounds, but no longer to the degree of near-seizing. (and no more spouting-out “snickers”) She’s since returned to her regular classes and “honestly,” she says, “I did miss school, but now that I’m back, I wish I wasn’t.”

Today, Stacy is a youth ambassador for the Tourette’s Association of America. She’s spent time in Austin as well as D.C. joining the lobby in an attempt to sway our nation’s leaders to the benefits of medicinal cannabis use, spread awareness about Tourette’s Syndrome and “bring more light to the situation.”

“I had no interest in politics whatsoever before this,” Stacy says, “but I knew that if I wanted to get stuff done that I would have to get involved in politics.”

When asked if she thinks it’s working: “I hope I’m being heard, but I don’t know.”

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5 things Texas farmers can do while waiting for hemp licenses

(Photo: Green Lynx Farms in Colorado / Zachary Maxwell)

With the release of the US Department of Agriculture’s interim hemp rule, it’s anticipated that Texas’ growers will be able to obtain hemp licenses in early 2020.

Until then, here’s some things you can work on now to better prepare for a successful grow operation in the future:

1. Soil Preparation

We can’t stress enough the value of good soil preparation. It starts with a soil test to determine what nutrients, organic matter, and problems may exist in your soil. Dr. Tony Povin with Texas A&M Agrilife suggests a soil test using the Mehlich 3 method.

An agronomist with Servi-Tech suggests that using fertility recommendations for hemp grain production would sufficiently cover flower (CBD) production. Texas Hemp Growers members save 5% on all Servi-Tech lab testing services, like soil and irrigation tests. And when submitting a soil sample, Servi-Tech will offer amendment recommendations to prepare your soil fertility for hemp.

2. Plant Material Selection

Stable seeds are selling fast. Do not wait until just before the planting season to select your seed, clone, or seedling vendor. Many reputable seed producers have either entirely contracted out their seeds, or are pre-selling out several years.

It’s never too early to line up your plant material purchases. Some vendors may offer a deposit option to secure the materials, with the remainder paid on delivery. If possible, vet your plant material source by visiting in-person. Ensure they grow in a clean and responsible environment. Some vendors may even offer replant agreements for crop failure, although this isn’t shared by everyone.

3. Mapping your grow area

Start mapping out your grow area. Identify and correct weak spots, such as excessive shaded areas. Determine your water source and how you intend to deliver the water to your plants. Companies, like Servi-Tech, offer field imaging services. If possible, begin collecting the GPS coordinates for the boundaries of your grow area, they will be needed when applying for your license.

4. Scouting for buyers

Just like vetting plant materials, it’s never too early to start a conversation with potential buyers, If you have a connection with a processing company, now would be a good time to strengthen that relationship. What plant strain, cannabinoid value, terpene profiles, beneficial microbial content, and other requirements does your end crop need to fulfill to meet the needs of the buyer? Is your buyer licensed, bonded and insured? Will they let you visit their facility? How much biomass can they process each day, and will they be able to process everything you deliver? Don’t wait until the last minute to answer these questions. Find the answers before you grow, so that you’re not rushing to figure it out during the heat of harvest season. Remember, your hemp crop has a shelf life.

5. Education

One of the best investments of your time between now and the availability of licenses is to continue investing in your education. If you haven’t already, consider attending a Texas Hemp Growers Master Class. These half-day courses cover a lot of ground in hemp education, and have been lauded as a great value by class attendees. Joining social media groups, like the Texas Hemp Growers group, and keeping up with livestreams, podcasts, and news articles are great ways to learn about the industry. Institutions, like the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, are constantly organizing events, such as the Rolling Plains Industrial Hemp Conference, where hemp education is discussed. Texas Hemp Growers members enjoy monthly newsletters and an updated growers guide among other educational opportunities. Join today for just $79 and receive many other support benefits.

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3 major takeaways from the USDA’s hemp rule

(Photo: Fremont Farms in Colorado / Zachary Maxwell)

With the U.S. Department of Agriculture releasing its interim hemp regulations this week, there’s plenty of buzz about what farmers can expect moving ahead.

  • Importing Seeds

The USDA will allow the importation of seeds from other countries, provided they are accompanied with a phytosanitary certificate from the country’s plant protection organization. Imported seeds are subject to inspection at the port of entry, to ensure they do not contain any pests or pathogens.

If importing seeds from Canada, you can use either a phytosanitary certificate or a federal seed analysis certificate.

Both seed and plant material importation is governed under the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS)  regulations.

  • THC testing

The USDA’s rule says hemp must be sampled for a pre-harvest test within 15 days before the anticipated harvest date. This time was selected based on what the USDA perceives as a fair amount of time for a farmer to harvest their hemp crop, allowing for inclement weather and equipment delays.

Growers must send their hemp to a DEA-certified lab specializing in a post-decarboxylation method, like gas or liquid chromatography. The lab to which samples are sent must also calculate and include a “measurement of uncertainty.” This measurement of uncertainty acts like a margin of error. Here’s an example that helps illustrate this new calculation:

If a laboratory reports a (THC) result as 0.35% with a measurement of uncertainty of +/- 0.06, the distribution or range is 0.29% to 0.41%. Because 0.3% is within that distribution or range, the sample, and the lot it represents, is considered hemp

The USDA acknowledged in its rules that farmers can lose their investment if the THC content is too high, which is why they’ve included this measurement of uncertainty metric to create a “high degree of certainty” that the hemp is either good or bad.

Lab tests will look at total THC, derived from the sum of the THC and THCA content.

  • Land Reporting

Information required as part of the license process will include a legal description of the land and geospatial location for each field, greenhouse, or other site where hemp is produced.

Growers will have to report their licensed acreage to the USDA Farm Service Agency, much like is already done for other crops. When submitting this information, you’ll have to provide your state license number. This document from the USDA explains exactly how to report acreage to the FSA.

State approval moving forward…

The interim rules were formally published in the Federal Register on Oct. 31, and will be open for public comment for the next 60 days. State and tribal authorities are not able to submit their plans for USDA approval for at least 30 days.

Before submitting, the Texas Department of Agriculture will amend its rules to comport with the new requirements from the USDA.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller called the USDA’ rule release “the big leap forward we’ve all be waiting for.”

“I want to make it clear – it is still not yet legal to grow industrial hemp in Texas,” Miller said. “But we are one step closer to allowing farmers to get this exciting new crop in the ground.”

Once received, the USDA has 60 days to either approve or deny the plan. It’s expected that hemp licenses could become available in early 2020.

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Key takeaways from USDA’s interim hemp rule

Today, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its long-awaited interim hemp production rule. It’s a 161-page document, and it’s a lot to take in. As a valued member of Texas Hemp Growers, we exist to provide you shortcuts to understanding major developments, like these rules. Here is a breakdown of some key elements that […]
This is a 1600+ word analysis of the 161-page interim rule released today by USDA. Members, please login to read this report. Texas Hemp Growers exists to provide its members critical legislative updates. We've had a chance to review the better majority of this document and have broken down key elements here. Please consider joining Texas Hemp Growers to instantly access this information.
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The pathetic demise of hemp and why government needs to STAY OUT

By Zachary Maxwell

I find it impressive that none of the experts with which I’ve visited on the subject of hemp knows the true history behind the demise of the industry. There’s a lot to be learned by looking to the past.

Many persons wrongly believe hemp was crushed under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. But a closer look reveals the industry died well before this, and for reasons unrelated to the ban of certain substances.

The year was 1949, and the American government had committed the country to a post-war rebuild effort in Europe. The government presented America’s hemp farmers a unique opportunity: grow hemp to the tune of hundreds of thousands of acres, and it would buy the millions of pounds of fiber to ship overseas to France to help rebuild the war-torn nation.

Such an offer couldn’t be resisted by hemp farmers, and so they obliged.

But in 1950, the government–doing what it does best–went back on its promise to purchase the fiber. Unexpectedly, farmers were left sitting on an exhausting amount of fiber that couldn’t be sold on the market. This fiber glut created an immediate decline in pricing, which seemed to haunt the industry until its demise several years later.

But the problem was further compounded with two inventions: synthetic fiber and gum tape.

Because of the instability in the retting process, synthetic fibers, like nylon and orion, were seen as stable, reliable alternatives for manufacturers. The tensile strength of synthetics was easier to control, and the outcomes more predictable than the unstable retting process required to separate hemp fibers from their woody core. Weather and moisture could wreck a farmer’s crop during the field retting process, as was the case in 1953 and 1954.

And with the invention of gum tape, hemp lost its biggest post-war market: the postal service. No longer did packages need to be tied with hemp cord. Instead, they could be sealed with tape.

The last successful hemp fiber crop was planted in 1957. But even then, it took over a year for farmers to sell the fiber.

In 1958, the industry came to a pathetic end, with a final crop of hemp grain being sold on the market as bird feed for $2 a bushel. Each bushel cost $10 to process.

There was also one other thing that I believe played into the industry’s demise: the death of Matthew Rens, America’s Hemp King, in 1950. Rens was the visionary who breathed life into the hemp industry in the decades before the war. When the government wished to commission hemp mills during the war, it sought out the sage advice of Rens.

But with Rens death, so went the energy and vision. And the hemp industry would sputter to a halt in just a few years.

The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 was simply a final nail in the coffin. Because nobody had been growing hemp for 12 years, the harmless plant was caught up in Reefer Madness hysteria and banned alongside its cousin.

The revival of the fiber industry will take a strong visionary, like Rens; someone who can lead the industry into a future steeped in free market principles and consumer choice. Governing authorities should take cautious note of this sordid history and interpret it as a sign that it should keep its hands out, and let the market redevelop on its own terms.

Have you reserved your seats for a Texas Hemp Growers Master Class? Click here for a schedule.