Miran Rijavec

Utah Ag. Department Considering Expanding Hemp Research to Farmers

Utah’s Agricultural Advisory Board has given initial approval for a new rule that would allow some farmers to grow hemp for research purposes, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The state Department of Agriculture and Food still needs to approve that program, which would allow farmers to submit a research plan for state approval and obtain a growing permit.

Melissa Ure, policy analyst for the Agriculture Department, said projects could include research on hemp fiber production; hemp seed as a protein source; improving cultivation methods; and the production of cannabinoid-based oils for medical purposes.

Colleges and universities in the state have been allowed to cultivate hemp for research purposes since the passage of the federal Farm Bill in 2014. Farmers could partner with those institutions for their research. The commercial sale of hemp products remains illegal under Utah state law.

Potential program participants will need to show in their plans how they intend to prevent unauthorized access to the crops and how they will dispose of the hemp after concluding the research.

The rule will be under review through the summer and, if finalized in the fall, the department could begin issuing permits in January. During a Utah Farm Bureau Federation meeting last summer, some farmers expressed interest in growing the crop which they believe could be a financial boon to the industry.

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