Earlier in 2019, Florida lawmakers approved the state’s first industrial hemp program. This week, farmers and businesses will have a chance to learn about the economic opportunities the crop could bring to the Sunshine State.
That education will come via the “850 Hemp Summit.”
Put on by the Apalachee Regional Planning Council and Leon County’s Office of Economic Vitality in partnership with the Florida Hemp Association, the event gets underway Wednesday at the FSU Turnbull Center, 555 W. Pensacola Street.
The goal: “to provide information and guidance to North Florida growers on the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ rules, license application processes, and processing and manufacturing guidelines under the 2019 State Hemp Plan legislation.”
The summit will also see farmers and other stakeholders — including a few hemp experts — speak on the challenges and opportunities of the industry, and to make recommendations for improving the program.
When lawmakers considered starting a state hemp program in the 2019 Legislative Session, it was billed as a way for the parts of North Florida devastated by Hurricane Michael to get back on their feet.
Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat, still feels that way.
“Rural Florida has been facing a crisis for many years; whether it’s the economy, infrastructure or health care,” he said. “As a region we need to focus our resources on exploring all possible opportunities to revitalize the panhandle area, especially after the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael.
“Hemp is a great example of one of those new industries and I look forward to working with all the stakeholders to ensure we take responsible and sensible steps forward as a community.”
Event registration opens at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. The conference will also host a welcome reception for attendees from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Craft House, 644 McDonnel Dr. The reception is free and open to the public.