Hemp is an agricultural crop grown worldwide and prized for its ability to be used for paper production, building components, products for human and even animal consumption through the seed, and health and beauty products based on hemp oil. (Hemp oil is a major by-product from crushing hemp seed.) While it is a close cousin of marijuana, hemp contains only a trace amount of THC (the compound that produces the high from consuming marijuana). In recognition of its potential, the 2014 Farm Bill has provisions authorizing the commercial production of hemp in the U.S. at the state level. Numerous states are in the process of setting up the legal framework for growing and processing hemp.
Based on legislation passed in 2014, Tennessee farmers can now register with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to legally grow hemp. In fact, approximately 40 farmers are currently growing hemp on 1,000-1,200 acres in the state. A cooperative has been founded, the Tennessee Hemp Farm, to facilitate the growth of the hemp industry by spreading knowledge and providing a means of processing hemp seed.
Interested individuals, but especially farmers and those working with farmers such as UT Extension agents, are invited to a meeting in Murfreesboro on Friday, July 17th, to learn more regarding the prospects for the Tennessee hemp industry, hemp farming techniques and processing, and venture opportunities. For more details and to register for the meeting go to TNHIA.org
David Hughes, professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics, 865-974-7463, dhughe17@utk.edu