Editor’s Note — This is the third of three stories on breakout sessions that will be offered during the eighth annual Ag is Everyone’s Business event on Feb. 24 at the Southern State Community College Patriot Center in Hillsboro.
On Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, Gov. Mike DeWine will take the stage to speak on the important role Highland County’s agricultural industry plays in Ohio’s economy. Following DeWine’s keynote address, attendees will have an opportunity to hear from industry experts regarding beef production, solar energy and the latest on hemp production in Ohio including rules and regulations, licensing information and best practices for growers.
Joining the Chamber for a two-part series will be Jim Belt, inspection manager for Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), followed by Andy Culbertson of Acela Biomedical.
The USDA recently approved Ohio’s hemp program. The rules went into effect on Jan. 29, 2020. The ODA will begin accepting applications for cultivating and processing. Farmers will have to obtain a license to grow hemp. Belt will explain how to obtain these licenses, along with the rules and regulations regarding the cultivation and processing of hemp.
In August 2019, after DeWine signed the law, the ODA planted 100 hemp plants for research purposes. The plants came to Ohio from Acela Biomedical, a Kentucky company that consists of hemp farmers, agricultural experts, biologists, chemists, and industry experts that share a passion and respect for organic products made from hemp, according to a Chamber of Commerce news release.
At Ag is Everyone’s Business, Acela will provide insight to growers on best practices for successful yields. In a press release issued by the ODA, Dorothy Director Pelanda said, “Our team traveled the nation visiting states such as Kentucky, Colorado, Wisconsin and North Dakota to learn about what these states are doing. We learned that there’s an art to planting hemp.”
“This is an exciting time now that Ohio has entered the hemp industry. Because of its infancy, there is quite a bit to learn and navigate. I look forward to sharing what we have learned and the continued learning we will experience together in the future,” Culbertson said.
Hemp is a strong fiber, grown for its many industrial uses and used in textiles. Its seed has nutritional value and can be eaten. The cannabidiol, or CBD, can be extracted from the plant and used in food and dietary supplements. It is now legal to sell properly inspected CBD products in Ohio. The ODA will be testing the products for safety and accurate labeling to protect Ohio consumers. While hemp and marijuana are both cannabis, hemp does not produce the same intoxicating effect marijuana does. The difference is their levels of THC, the potentially intoxicating compound. According to the USDA, hemp must contain less that .3 percent THC. Marijuana contains a higher level of THC, often more 10 percent, the Chamber news release said.
“Both Mr. Belt and Mr. Culbertson will be taking questions from those in the audience to clarify common misconceptions regarding hemp. This is an opportunity for our Highland County folks to speak directly to industry experts and learn firsthand the facts about hemp,” Highland County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Destiny Bryson said.
Tickets to the event are on sale for $20 and will include the breakfast, the keynote speaker and the attendees choice of one of the three breakout sessions. The Chamber office is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and tickets can be purchased in person at the office located at 338 W. Main St., Hillsboro, or by phone at 937-393-9111. Registration is also available through the Chamber website at www.thehighlandchamber.com with your option to call with a credit card, mail a check or pay with cash.
Information for this story was provided by the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.