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Budget conference: Agreement reached on funding of state hemp program

March 13, 2020

The House and Senate have agreed to a $4.36 million funding agreement for a state industrial hemp program.

That’s movement on the part of the House, which a few days ago was not yet ready to accept the Senate budget for the program.

But considering Senate Appropriations Chair Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, served as the chief architect of the program, it remained a high priority for the upper chamber in negotiations. Bradley serves on the industrial hemp advisory council.

Bradley said in a statement there is “a great deal of opportunity, both for Florida’s agricultural community and our economy, that comes with the production of industrial hemp in our state.” It appears he’s convinced House Appropriations Chair Rep. Travis Cummings, a Clay County Republican, to hop on the hemp bandwagon. The money will be used to fund 43 full time employees.

The program is seen as key in getting the industrial hemp business growing in Florida. Up until now, the more fragile strains used for CBD oil and that must be grown in greenhouse environments has been the more popular cash crop in the short time legal hemp has been a legal option.

But Florida farmers say the potential exists for industrial hemp to be used for countless products including textiles.

“What we are seeing is a maturation of an industry. In its infancy stage, CBD is what birthed it,” Jeff Greene, of the Florida Hemp Council told Florida Politics earlier this Session.“But because of hemp’s legalization now and the ability for scientists and practitioners to do their due diligence, we are finding the plants can be used for hundreds if not thousands of things.”\

Legislation approved by the House (SB 1876) regarding the hemp program is still sitting in Senate messages. There remains a significant difference between the chambers regarding the sale and cultivation of various kinds of hemp seeds.