Fried on Florida Hemp Production

Clint Thompson Florida

Nicole “Nikki” Fried
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Hemp is blazing among Florida’s agriculture inventory in the seven months since it was first allowed to be legally grown in the Sunshine State, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried told business leaders earlier this month. Fried says more than 22,000 acres are currently licensed for hemp, nearly equal to the acreage in Florida of tomatoes, watermelon and snap peas, and double the state’s strawberry production.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) first issued hemp cultivation permits on April 27.

Fried estimates the current acreage will produce $270 million in economic impact, $136 million in revenue and support more than 8,000 jobs.

She anticipates hemp will cover 300,000 acres within the next three to five years.

“All the citrus industry here in the state of Florida has about 700,000 acres. So, we’re going to be getting close to half of that within the next few years, for the cultivation of hemp.”

A 2018 federal farm bill legalized hemp as an agricultural product after decades of debate about the issue. Industrial hemp can be used in numerous products and is different from euphoria-causing marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. Florida lawmakers in 2019 passed a bill to take advantage of the federal farm law, creating a program to regulate cultivation of hemp.

(From the News Service of Florida)