Louisiana ag commissioner forecasts 80,000 acres of hemp grows in 2020

Louisiana farmers could grow hemp on up to 80,000 acres in 2020, up from zero this year, the state’s top agriculture chief said.

But the growth, he noted, relies on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finishing work on new rules for production.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain briefed state lawmakers Wednesday about hemp prospects there.

Strain predicted 100-200 farmers would apply for permits to grow hemp in 2020 if they could. Louisiana has authorized hemp production, but only if federal authorities approve its plans to regulate the crop.

The USDA will have 60 days to approve or reject Louisiana’s hemp plan. But the timer won’t start until national rules are released.

The agency has said rules would be in place for the 2020 growing season, but there is still no exact timetable.

Louisiana isn’t the only state waiting to see federal action before allowing hemp farming.

Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Texas are among the states that have passed hemp laws contingent on USDA approval, according to the 2019 Hemp & CBD Industry Factbook.

– Associated Press and Hemp Industry Daily