Last month, Alejandra Aguilera, leading attorney at The Aguilera Law Center’s Marijuana Law Division, had the opportunity to tour The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Tropical Research and Education Center, where the university grows and researches different varieties of hemp.
Hemp is expected to become Florida’s next cash crop, with the legalization of hemp farming and the establishment of the state’s first agricultural hemp pilot program. The bill, SB1020, which was passed in July of this year, established the hemp research program at the University of Florida, which is monitored by the Florida Department of Agriculture.
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The UF/IFAS industrial hemp pilot project aims to find hemp strains that grow well in Florida’s diverse environments and develop best practices for the management of industrial hemp crops. The project also seeks to assess the risk of hemp becoming an invasive species of plant and becoming a threat to Florida’s biodiversity.
Hemp Research in South Florida
Hemp is a versatile plant, and with the growing demand for hemp and cannabidiol products, Florida’s farmers will gain a crop with great economic potential. Ongoing research shows that hemp grows best in warmer weather, which potentially makes it a low-maintenance, low-risk crop with high commercial demand. Farmers in Florida who struggle physically and financially with their current crops will have hemp available as an option to supplement their earnings.
The research being conducted at The UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, FL will help first-time hemp farmers in Florida with the information and resources they will need to successfully plant, grow and harvest hemp crops in any area of the state, including South Florida. Homestead’s tropical climate will prove which varieties of hemp will fare best in the greater South Florida, giving farmers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach a leg-up on the competition.
Touring UF’s Homestead Research Center
Experiencing the tour of the research center first-hand, attorney Alejandra Aguilera gives us her account:
“I was given a tour of the hemp plants being grown and maintained by a University of Florida study. The tour was informative as it is the first study done that will educate farmers on how to grow hemp in Florida. The study is also looking at what insects and animal species are the most harmful to hemp plants in Florida. The most compelling part of the tour was being able to see how certain hemp plants (because there are so many different kinds) did well in the Florida environment and how others did not.”
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The University of Florida’s research on industrial hemp is sure to pave the way for industrial and economic growth in the state. It will give Florida’s farmers access to a wealth of information on an unfamiliar crop without having to experiment themselves and risk crop failure.
The Future of Hemp in Florida
According to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, hemp will give farmers and rural economies affected by recent hurricanes a long-awaited boost, as well as make Florida a leader in hemp production nationally. Currently, only a few states grow hemp, and a handful of states have created a hemp pilot program like Florida’s. However, these states do not boast the warmer climates Florida has, which hemp is likely to grow best in.
Thinking of starting your own business in the Florida hemp industry? Now is the time! Contact The Marijuana Law Division at The Aguilera Law Center for more information on how to get started. We help new and aspiring business owners navigate the legal issues surrounding hemp and cannabusiness.