LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Today, hundreds of West Texas farmers met outside Lubbock at Cook’s Garage to listen to presentations that regarded industrial hemp. Local farmers were there to meet out-of-state farmers that grow hemp, learn how hemp’s fibers can be used to make clothing and other materials, and speak to other West Texas farmers who are considering growing it, possibly as an alternative to cotton.
Tom Durmody, Vice President of operations for Bija Hemp, gave one of the first presentations about the right genetics of growing industrial hemp and the process of doing so. He said he wanted people to hear from speakers like him who have been in the business.
“[We] wanted to give growers the resources that other people have learned through the experience of getting involved with this crop, which in many ways is predominantly the wild west in West Texas.”
Last month, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 1325, which made it legal for farmers to grow hemp as a crop and made it legal for CBD products to be purchased that have less than .3 percent of THC in them- the psychoactive component of cannabis that gets people high. However, right now, there are no regulations that have been put out yet. Texans are waiting for regulations from The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Clayton Brooker, who is a licensed cannabis producer in New Mexico, also has a cotton farm in Cochran County, and says that cotton may be on its last leg and it’s one reason why he went to today’s event.
"There’s a lot of regulatory unknowns. It’s just a new area for us, but we’re excited. There’s a lot of money to be made for everybody,” Brooker said. “We definitely want somewhere to go with it, when we plant it. The last thing we want to do is get stuck with it.”
Beau Woodcock, a sponsor of the event and a speaker, who came from Colorado, says that he’s excited to give West Texans an education of what it means to grow industrial hemp.
“We wanted to show these farmers that we went from growing row crop into growing hemp and it’s kind of the same thing here- letting these guys know that you can transition into a new crop and that there is money in it,” Woodcock said.
He said he wanted to bring in speakers to let the public know the processing side, the industrial side, and the CBD side.
“I want the farmers making no money growing cotton or anything else to actually have a chance to make money and have a profitable future for their farm.”
He also wants people to learn from mistakes where hemp has been grown legally longer than Texas like Colorado, where he’s from.
According to the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), the United States is the biggest importer of hemp goods in the world and it generated 820 million in sales in the U.S. in 2017.