Texas hemp farmers begin applying for licenses

By Julie Tomascik

Texas farmers can now submit applications for a license to grow hemp in the Lone Star State.

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) began accepting applications on Monday, March 16.

“This is the final step in the regulatory process for Texas farmers to grow hemp,” Brant Wilbourn, Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) associate director of Commodity and Regulatory Activities, said.

Any individual who plans to produce, handle, sample or collect hemp at any location in Texas will be required to annually submit a completed license application.

A $100 fee must accompany the application, renewal or modification of a license.

Applicants must be 18 years or older. If individuals have been convicted of a felony related to a controlled substance under federal or state law, they may not, before the tenth anniversary of the date of conviction, apply for a hemp license.

Once an application is approved, the license holder will apply for a producer or handlers permit to plant an area known as a “lot” in hemp. This license will require the following information:

Street address and geospatial location, including GPS for each facility where hemp will be cultivated or stored; and

Proof of ownership or control over the location where hemp will be cultivated or stored
Anticipated dates of cultivation; and

All other information required by TDA.

Applications are available online at https://www.texasagriculture.gov/RegulatoryPrograms/Hemp.aspx.

Official dates will be posted soon for those who wish to register a hemp processing entity with TDA.

Hemp can be used for textiles, clothing, oils, industrial products and food.

But growers could be facing low prices and a steep learning curve on how best to grow the crop, sell it and navigate the complex regulatory framework surrounding it.

“As Texas gets ready to kick off its first hemp growing season, the market isn’t as favorable as it was a few months ago,” Wilbourn said. “Many farmers will likely still apply for their license, even if they don’t plant as many acres as they had originally planned.”

The process to grow hemp in Texas began with the 2018 Farm Bill, which set the state for hemp to be legalized nationwide.

Since Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 1325 and legalized hemp production in Texas last summer, TDA worked to develop rules and testing requirements for the crop

TDA held a public comment hearing on the state’s hemp rules earlier this year, and USDA approved Texas’ hemp plan in late January.