The week of Sept. 16 marked the first committee week of 2019, as state lawmakers gathered in Tallahassee to begin preparing for the upcoming legislative session. Although the official start of the session will not take place until after the New Year, many important issues were discussed by legislators during the first week.
One of the topics that is of great interest to Nikki Fried, our Commissioner of Agriculture, is hemp. Hollie Bell, Director of Cannabis for the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, (FDACS) discussed the interest in hemp that the department has received for months now.
FDACS has a team of three divisions working in this specific area:
- Division of Agriculture Environmental Services: seeds, pesticides, fertilizer and animal feed.
- Division of Plant Industry: cultivation
- Division of Food Safety: processing, manufacturing and retailing.
Along with FDACS, UF/IFAS also announced their Industrial Hemp Pilot Project. The goal of this project is to support the future viability and sustainability of an industrial hemp industry in Florida.
UF/IFAS’s plan is to have industry funded research facilities with a multidisciplinary team to:
- Identify hemp varieties suitable for planting in Florida’s various environments.
- Develop hemp management practices and cropping systems economically viable for Florida.
- Assess the hemp invasion risk in Florida’s natural and built environments.
UF/IFAS is staying involved by having program activities, advisory groups and qualified project partners as well as project sponsors. These consist of:
- Program activities: workshops & field days.
- Advisory Groups: Oversee program execution and aid in program decisions.
- Qualified Project Partners: formal volunteer opportunities & future on-farm research.
Hemp will be a hot topic throughout committee weeks and the 2020 legislative session. From what was discussed the first committee week, if everything goes as planned, the hemp program could be up and running after the New Year.
These committee meetings will continue throughout December and the 2020 legislative session will begin in January.
Florida Farm Bureau Federation will continue to host ourin Tallahassee this year. The event will be held on during the final committee week prior to the 2020 session.
Florida Farm Bureau is looking forward to welcoming hundreds of farmers and ranchers in the Capitol City to be the “Voice of Agriculture” at the State Capitol.