In Part 1 of our guide to starting a hemp farm in California, we outlined the process for registering as a hemp farmer with the CDFA, as well as the difference between seed breeders and cultivators. This second part of our hemp farm guidance series will provide detail about the importation and movement of industrial hemp; details on manufacturing, processing, and selling industrial hemp; and tips on how to get started in this new market.
Hemp Importation Guidelines from the CDFA
Obviously, the first step in starting a hemp farm (after registering with the CDFA) is to procure hemp seeds. Remember, there are some conflicting laws at the federal level in regards to the legality of growing hemp. It’s not possible to import seeds from outside the US to California, per federal regulation from the USDA. However, California state law does not have any restrictions to the importation of industrial hemp seeds or plants from other states into California.
The CDFA requires all industrial hemp seeds and plants to pass plant pest quarantines, and may inspect your hemp seeds further at their discretion. Likewise, the California Food and Agriculture code requires that registered growers and seed breeders only grow hemp varieties from an approved list of seed cultivars. Of course, this regulation does not apply to seed breeders developing new seed cultivars.
Selling Hemp in California
Where can you sell the hemp you grow on your farm? It’s possible to sell hemp through the California Farmers’ Market (CFM) Program. You must first be certified as producer through the CDFA's CFM Program. You may also be able to sell hemp in a licensed cannabis retail store; however, cannabis retailers are governed by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (not the CDFA). Therefore, you should get in touch with the BCC to be sure you meet the cannabis industry’s strict regulations before adding hemp to a cannabis dispensary.
Starting a Hemp Farm in California
By some estimates, more than 25,000 products can be made from hemp. Hemp is used in everything from the automotive industry to personal care products. California is a leader in the hemp market: California companies earn 77% of nationwide sales of hemp food and personal care products.
Hemp is a plant that thrives in California’s environment. It does well in warm weather, and grows best in well-drained, highly organic soil. Experts recommend planting hemp seeds directly in the ground, rather than starting the plants in a pot and transplanting them later on. You will need a lot of space: for hemp to be profitable, you must plant at least 50 acres. Besides space, hemp has relatively few other needs. It’s resistant to pests and diseases, and grows fast and tall, minimizing the need for hand cultivation. Estimates from a recent Cornell University analysis found that hemp profits ranged from $130 to $730 per acre.
A good way to get started in California’s hemp industry is to go to a workshop by the California Hemp Association to learn about the constantly changing forms, fees, and regulations and other information coming from the CDFA and the USDA.
You should also speak to our experts about the registration process and to get your taxes in order before entering this new market. Click the button below to get started.