Organic Hemp Farm – Standards, GMP & Advantages
Did you know that George Washington, yes, the first president of the United States was a hemp farmer? In his organic hemp farm in mount Vernon George Washington grew hemp, first as a commercial crop ditching it later for its fiber and canvas use.
Probably that is why the founding fathers of the United States of America wrote the U.S. Constitution, Articles of Confederation, and Declaration of Independence hemp paper.
We can today trace hemp in more than 25,000 products.
As a hemp– CBD hemp or CBG hemp – farmer, you are part of an industry that reaches far and beyond what other crops can in the past, present, and in the future.
We attribute the turning point of the aviation and motor industry to the world wars for their demand for faster and better ways of getting to the battleground to kill the enemy. Little, however, is known of the role hemp played. It did its part. In 1942, during the 2nd World War, the U.S. government ran hemp for victory campaign, encouraging farmers to grow hemp for the much-needed fiber and canvas requirements of the war that was no longer accessible from the Philippines.
The lifting of the federal gag on the industry no doubt has resurrected the conversation of the value of hemp.
The more people talk, the more they learn and are intrigued by the product. The more they learn so does the desire to consume the products.
You know where this leads to; someone has to make those products.
And for hemp, someone has to go to the garden and plant the hemp crop.
In a capitalist world, huge consumer demand is always in step with producer response. In most cases, whatever it takes. In the hemp industry today, we are starting to have conversations about GMO hemp.
To lend to the conversation, this article will explore organic hemp farming, GMO Hemp, and hopefully sway one or two towards setting up an Organic Hemp Farm in Arizona Hemp Consultants’ organic friendly farmland like Big Sandy Ranch in Mohave County, Arizona.
What we will cover in this article:
- What is Organic Hemp Farming?
- What do you need to become a certified hemp grower?
- What is GMP, and why should it concern a hemp grower?
- What is a hemp GMP Laboratory?
- Advantages of organic hemp farming
- What makes a good organic hemp farm?
What is Organic Hemp Farming?
“An organic farm, properly speaking, is not one that uses certain methods and substances and avoids others; it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system that has the integrity, the independence and the benign dependence of an organism.”
— Wendell Berry, “The Gift of Good Land”
Organic Hemp Farming, as with any kind of organic farming is about organic agricultural practices that maintain, replenish and balance soil fertility to produce healthy and better-tasting crops using several biological and cultural methods to build soil health, manage weeds and pests, and increase biodiversity.
According to the two men who popularized organic farming, J.I. Rodale and Sir Albert Howard – the famed father of modern Organic Agriculture, the use of “organic” narrowly refers to the use of organic matter derived from plant compost and animal manures to improve the humus content of soils, grounded in the work of early soil scientists who developed what was then called “humus farming.”
J.I. Rodale noted that farming practices focused on cultivating healthy soil would lead to healthier foods, and ultimately, healthier people too.
For this reason, products labeled organic are priced much higher than those not organically grown.
To regulate and ensure that growers and food producers don’t abuse consumers, the USDA provides oversight and direction for organic farming in the United States.
For an agricultural product to be labeled organic is to say that it was produced using the organic standards specified by the USDA.
Such standards cover crops, livestock, poultry, and handling.
Here is an excerpt from the USDA crop standards.
The organic crop production standards require that:
- Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least three years before the harvest of an organic crop.
- Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials, and allowed synthetic substances.
- Crop pests, weeds, and diseases, will be controlled primarily through management practices, including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used.
- Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available.
- The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge is prohibited.
What do you need to become a certified hemp grower?
USDA policy on certification of hemp as organic states that, “For hemp produced in the United States, only hemp produced in accordance with the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program and the 2014 Farm Bill may be certified as organic, if produced in accordance with USDA organic regulations.”
This program requires that for one to become a certified organic grower to maintain an Organic System Plan and to be certified by a Certifying Agent accredited by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).
If you are wondering what will happen at your organic inspection – CCOF has a great article on that.
A discussion on the readiness for hemp certification and organic farming, in general, cannot be complete without touching another subject; Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP)
What is GMP, and why should it concern a hemp grower?
Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP), according to the World Health Organization, is a system for ensuring that products are consistently produced according to quality standards for public health and safety.
The guiding principle of GMP in practice is quality must be integral to each stage of the production process. The thinking is that quality cannot be tested into a product.
GMP, therefore, sets standards that farmers/business owners need to follow to guarantee a consistent quality of their products.
Even with the benefits of GMPs to business owners, the cannabis industry is yet to set a uniform set of guidelines – Good Manufacturing Processes – like the food and pharmaceutical industries.
To fill the gap, existing regulation only attempts to control quality through GMP laboratory testing.
Remember, the thinking behind GMPs is that quality cannot be tested into a product.
What is a hemp GMP Laboratory?
A hemp GMP laboratory is a laboratory that follows and systematically documents adherence to Good Manufacturing Practice regulations at every step of the manufacturing process for product quality and consumer protection.
A GMP lab subscribes to the principles of cleanliness, control, accuracy, quality, and safety.
We’ve covered a lot on organic farming and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP). So why the fuss, what is in it for a farmer or investor.
Testing happens after the fact. If any of your stages of production have leakages, the final product suffers. The losses compound to the farmer if he has to destroy his farm because the hemp doesn’t pass the mandatory tests or, worse, a product that risks the lives of consumers slips into the market.
Advantages of organic hemp farming
If you want a reason to farm hemp organically, there are many.
Organic farming is heavily advocated for sustainability, openness, self-sufficiency, autonomy/independence, health, food security, and food safety.
A survey financed by Purdue University Diversity Transformation Collaboration Mini-Grant program, the Agricultural Research Program, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, NCA&T State University conducted among North Carolina certified organic growers to ascertain their knowledge of, and willingness to adopt industrial hemp unearthed great reasons for growing hemp organically.
The respondents gave the following reasons why they farm hemp organically.
- 6% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they farm hemp organically to use fewer herbicides and or pesticides.
- 80% of the respondents grow hemp organically to improve soil health, water quality, and biodiversity, thereby contributing to their community by using environmentally friendly practices.
- 9% of the agreed that by farming organically, they pass down values, land, and as a way of farming to future generations.
- 6% stated that they farm hemp organically to increase their income, why?
- Most respondents (82.9%) agreed or strongly agreed that receiving organic price premium motivates them to farm hemp organically.
From our practice at Arizona Hemp Consultants, we have learned many other reasons why farming hemp organically is beneficial to a farmer.
There is a growing customer base for certified USDA Organic agriculture products, hemp products included. Because of this.
- Hemp from a certified organic farm is more desirable to extraction companies and processors.
- As a big retailer through our sister company CBD family store, selling to big retailers is easier with organic hemp products
A farmer who sets up an Organic Hemp Farm certainly won’t go wrong. If more significant profits don’t motivate you to farm hemp organically, then taking care of your environment, community, and family will.
The road to profitable organic hemp farming winds through trough the complex terrain of organic farming practices and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) – which should not be reserved only for GMP laboratories.
But as you have seen, it is worth ever, detour, sweat and dollar invested.
The question then is, what makes a good organic hemp farm?
To answer that question, we will look at a couple of the best conditions required for hemp farming.
Soils, nutrients, weather, and water.
Weather requirements to consider
Hemp grows best in areas with a humid atmosphere and a warm temperature in a place that receives at least 25-30 inches of rainfall per year.
Such a climate is suitable for soil moisture, which is good for germination and early plant growth.
Soil requirements to consider
Although hemp can survive in almost any soil type, it thrives in a few: well-aerated soils of a pH above 6, soft and deep for the sinking tap roots of hemp plants, soils absorb moisture and hold nutrients.
Any soil – compact soil, poorly drained soil – away from that description is bad for hemp.
Nutrient requirements to consider
Soils that have proper nutrients will result in a hemp plant that returns a bumper harvest.
In the first six to eight weeks of growth, a hemp plant requires a good measure of nitrogen, as it grows into the flowering and seed formation stage the plant consumes a lot of phosphorous and potassium.
Besides the nutrients, hemp has a high water demand. You can only achieve that in a place that, by nature, has a good water table within reach of hemp roots.
Heavy rains or irrigation methods like the center-pivot – overhead irrigation can lead to foliage diseases and reduced crop performance.
When you have the land that fits this bill, among the other conditions hemp growing requires, going organic is the way.
For investors and farmers looking for suitable land, we have land.
In Mohave County in Arizona, we have ranch land for sale.
The land has an abundant supply of water from the shallow wells and the Big Sandy River, which flows several months of the year through the heart of the land, creating the perfect setting for an organic hemp farm.
We champion organic hemp farming that categorically restrains from the use of synthetic or chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and genetically-modified organisms.
We help farmers set up organic hemp farms, supply them with organic nutrients, and advise them on every aspect of their hemp production – from seed to sale.
George Washington grew hemp, so can you. We are there for you throughout the whole journey.