hemp

VT Agency of Ag Covers New Hemp Rules in UVM Webinar

University of Vermont Agronomist and Nutrient Management Specialist Heather Darby on in a hemp field ready for harvest on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 in Alburgh, Vermont. by Monica Donovan for Heady Vermont.
Heady Vermont Staff
Heady Vermont Staff 18 Jun 2020

Stephanie Smith of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) kicked off the first of UVM Extension’s 2020 Hemp Growing Season Webinar Series last Thursday with an informative and useful session on the new hemp rules for this year.  VAAFM filed its adopted Vermont Hemp Rules with the Vermont Secretary of State on May 6, and they became effective on May 21, in advance of the 2020 planting season.

We’ve summarized highlights, and included both the Vermont Hemp Rules YouTube video and snippets of Kathryn Blume’s on-point live-tweet below. View the presentation here (PDF).

Check out the next UVM Hemp Webinars, and even more hemp and business webinars, on our events page.

2020 Vermont Hemp Numbers

Created by Heady Vermont with Data from Vermont Business Magazine, VAAFM

As of the date of the webinar (June 11, the VAAFM had received 399 registrations for 2020. 60 of these thus far are for personal use, and the remaining 339 are for commercial growing and processing. In total, there are 1,117 registered acres of hemp along with 7,893sf registered for indoor cultivation. 11 of the registrations were for grain/fiber, and 48 for extraction.

This continues to be, as in past years, a rolling registration process, so Smith says they fully expect to receive more. However, in an Vermont Business Magazine article last month, VAAFM anticipated that that the number of registrants and acres registered will be less than in 2019, presumably because the grower registration fee has increased in 2020 – it is now based on the number of acres a person registered. By contras, in 2019 the fee was a flat $25 to register regardless of the number of acres registered.

The pilot program expires on October 31, 2020, which means all hemp under this program must be sampled, tested and harvested before October 31. VAAFM intends on submitting a state plan to the USDA for approval, but this process is not complete yet. Growers continuing operations after October 31 may have to register with the USDA to harvest the hemp they grew earlier in the year.

Watch the Vermont Hemp Rules webinar:

Who Must Register?

Every person growing hemp in Vermont, indoor or outdoor,  for business use, must register with VAAFM. Registration, says Smith, must be completed before taking possession of viable seed, plants, clones, hemp crop, trim flower, or hemp concentrate. Processing includes drying or storing of hemp. Hemp concentrate may only be possessed by registrants.

Smith also further defines what qualifies as a grower and a processor (helpful bullet points in both the PDF and on the VAAFM site), and clarifies that personal use growers are not required to register, although they can. Retail businesses selling hemp and hemp-infused products do not need to, although this excludes nurseries. Other useful bits of info included licensing fees, which have increased significantly for this year.

Grower registrants must report to the Agency by December 1, providing total acres planted, harvested, and disposed of. Processors must report total dry weight of hemp crop handled in the preceding year by January 30 of 2021.

Testing

There is no opportunity to mitigate hot crops, or crops that exceed acceptable potency levels. While admitting that the technology exists to remove THC concentrations for processing as a hemp product, Smith makes it clear that any hot crops are not considered hemp under the state’s rules and must be destroyed.  Mitigation, however, may be available for crops that do not meet contaminant action limits.


Additionally, she clarifies that, while it had been provided for under state law to allow growers to send hot crops to licensed medical dispensaries, that is no longer available. The reason, Smith says, is that this is illegal under federal law, and VAAFM does not want to put farmers at risk for penalties and potential prosecution.

The Agency is currently working on scaling up and tweaking the state-certified laboratory program, Smith says, and is hoping to start getting labs registered by late August so they can be available for harvest season.

Labeling

Products must be labeled with specific information in order to be compliant, including that the product includes hemp-derived ingredients, and if the product contains THC, how much it contains. Labels must be accurate with respect to content of hemp products and hemp-infused products traceable back to the harvest lot number, process lot number and associated compliance records. Above all, Smith stresses, labeling must be accurate. Processors and product makers in the state have come up with a number of flexible and creative solutions to this, including fill-in-the-blank stickers they can fill in for each batch. QR codes alone are not enough meet the Vermont Hemp Rules requirement, but they can be used to provide supplemental information.

Complete instructions and information on Hemp Program registration can be found on the Vermont Agency of Agriculture site.

Check out UVM’s upcoming Hemp Webinars on our events page.

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