CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Texas House Bill 1325 was passed on July 10, paving the way for farmers to grow hemp in the Lone Star State.
The Texas Department of Agriculture still has to work out rules and regulations before farmers can begin growing the crop.
During a symposium at the Center for Economic Development on the Del Mar College campus, local farmers were educated about what the hemp business could mean for them.
Hemp production already is legal in more than 40 states. The Coastal Bend region of the Hemp in Texas Organization wants to make sure South Texas farmers are plugged in to what that could mean for them.
"What we're trying to do is educate farmers and the public on the benefits of farming this crop, and using CBD,” said Rene Pena, owner of Third Coast Hemp. “But we want to bring the hemp industry here, we want to have cultivation in South Texas.”
The emphasis is on the word "crop." Besides CBD oil, hemp is grown for fibers, construction and textiles -- including dry wall, bricks, and even plastic water bottles. And that's not where it ends.
These speakers say hemp can even replace cotton, with one acre of hemp producing as much as two or three acres of cotton.
Hemp is projected to go for up to $4,000 per acre. Some 70 companies are eager to get into business with local farmers, making local farmers even more eager to learn more about this groundbreaking industry.
"The best way to grow the hemp, the best way to use hemp in different ways so we can sell, and make the most money that we can to provide for us and maybe even give back to our city,” said Karl Gibson II, Mi Familia farm manager. “Most important to understanding the passed bill, is to know what hemp ... isn't.
"They keep getting hemp mixed up with the other thing -- like marijuana -- but it's not close at all."
Supporters say farmers should embrace hemp as a cash crop.
“"The message that we give to farmers and corpus as a community is don't be afraid of hemp,” said Mike Hendrix, the Go Texas Hemp Association executive director. “It is legal to grow in the state of Texas.”
Farmers hope to begin planting the crop as early as this December.