In the near future, Vermont farmers will have new opportunities for agricultural diversity. Without signing it, Governor Jim Douglas has allowed a bill which lets farms plant industrial hemp crops become a law. But those who promote the vibrant, expanding business of hemp still need patience. Federal law treats hemp and marijuana as the same plant, making hemp just as illegal as cannabis. Lots of law makers think a change in the policy will take place.
Proponents insist that hemp is vital for cosmetics, garments, and even for food production. The Agriculture Agency is prepared to change even more after these new laws are passed. Although corn production is less in Vermont than in the Midwest, only producing 90,000 acres per year, it is still vitally necessary to continue with the practice of regular crop rotation.
Various industries support hemp as an additional Vermont crop, including candle making and dairy industries. Although industrial hemp is currently a small market, it is quickly growing in the mainstream market. Over the last ten years, farmers in Canada grew an average of 16,500 acres of hemp every year for use in food products. Vermont's potential hemp industry could also tap into this market as well as selling cheap animal bedding for the 140,000 cows in Vermont. Police officials cite concerns about industrial hemp's connection with marijuana as their reason for opposition to the bill. The governor states that the reason he did not sign the bill was the link between hemp and marijuana.
The task of the Agriculture Agency is to write the regulations for hemp cultivation that will enable farmers to get their licenses as soon as the new law goes into effect. North Dakota is the other state who has done the same. Hemp agriculture is legal in many countries today, including Canada.
In 1937, growing hemp in the United States was banned although the suspension was lifted temporarily during World War II.
The author is interested in hemp production and ethical fashion.