Nikki Fried: Hemp will ‘revolutionize’ Florida. Dayton Beach News Journal
DELAND — With nearly 200,000 acres of land for agricultural business across Volusia County, it’s not unusual to pass a field of livestock, lots with timber or rows of ornamental ferns.
Following the recent enactment of a new law, some are hoping to see hemp eventually added to the list of crops in the county.
That possibility is especially important to Nikki Fried, a lifelong Floridian and the state’s 12th commissioner of agriculture and consumer services. Fried shared her goals Thursday afternoon with a few dozen local leaders as the keynote speaker during a DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce and Orange City Alliance event sponsored by Cobb Cole, held at the Volusia County Fairgrounds.
“It’s something that’s going to revolutionize our state,” Fried said of hemp.
Hemp is a non-intoxicating variety of cannabis sativa and one of the oldest domesticated crops around, according to the National Hemp Association, a nonprofit that works to support the development and growth of the industrial hemp industry.
The crop’s seed and stalk have countless uses. For the seed and its oil, uses include, but aren’t limited to, foods and health and beauty products. Fabrics, paper products, construction materials and biofuels are just some of the products that can be made from the stalk and its fiber.
The state Senate bill creating a hemp program was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on July 1. The program, which is a part of Fried’s department, will look into the cultivation, processing, manufacturing and commercial business of hemp.
The only states that prohibit cultivating hemp for commercial, research or pilot programs are Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi and Washington, D.C., per the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Fried said she hopes to see hemp planted by early next year at the latest.
That came as good news to a group of attendees who are working on forming a new hemp company and plan to bring their headquarters to Volusia County.
“She’s spot on,” said Adam Fischer, who will be the company’s director of farming development and operations. “There’s a million uses for hemp.”
But Fischer and Charlie Brown Jr., who will handle communications for American Hemp Manufacturing, know they could face a bit of battle.
“I think one of the biggest obstacles is going to be education, taking away the stigma that comes along with seeing the emblem of a leaf,” Brown said.
“It’s definitely a highly-governed business and so we’ll be working closely with elected officials and representatives to make sure that we [comply with regulations],” J.T. Clark, the company’s CEO, said. “And we think our timing is right for entering into the market here.”
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