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Hemp hearing draws hundreds of Texas farmers to Waco

A bill signed into law in 2019 made growing hemp in Texas legal. More than 200 farmers gathered in Waco Wednesday to learn the rules of how to do it.

WACO, Texas — More than 200 farmers in Texas gathered in Waco Wednesday to look for ways to make money by growing hemp.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the commercial production of hemp and authorized states to submit state plans to administer hemp programs.

Cousins Don Pattee and Vick Holland said family and education is what brought them to Waco on Wednesday. They want to learn how to grow and profit from hemp on their land in Oakwood. 

"We want to maintain some of that history, some of that historical presence by creating an opportunity through business to help support our local community," Pattee said. 

In 2019, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law. The bill authorized the production, manufacture, retail sale, and inspection of industrial hemp crops and products in Texas.

Hemp will not be legal to grow in Texas until the United States Department of Agriculture approves the state's hemp plan. 

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller held a hearing at the Texas Farm Bureau in Waco to take public feedback on the rules in that plan. 

"You can’t tell this crop from marijuana, so it’s going to have to have some oversight,” Miller said. "We're going to make it as much as we can non-regulatory but it’s going to have some. It’s not like cotton or corn." 

There are about 90 pages of proposed hemp rules farmers had to look over, with hopes of obtaining their license to grow in March. 

"Farmers, if done right, and done well, they can potentially net ten to twenty thousand an acre. You compare that with other crops like corn where they net four hundred to five hundred an acre, there's no competition, “ President of Texas Hemp Growers Zack Maxwell said.

Pattee and Holland said that is what they are hoping for. 

"We hope we can utilize this and take it back to the community to help some people out,” Holland said.  “That’s what it’s all about."

Tou ca learn more about the hemp program on the Texas agriculture website. If you want to learn more about the hemp program in Texas, click here. 

RELATED: Austin to consider stopping arrests, tickets in low-level marijuana cases after hemp law

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RELATED: US finalizing rule to allow farmers to legally grow hemp

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