Hemp Officially Achieves Crop Insurance Qualification via USDA

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For decades, robust crop insurance policies have been available for those that produce most agricultural products. These policies offer protection against crop and profit loss resulting from natural disasters and, in some cases, the declining revenues that can follow the reduction in agricultural commodity pricing. 

As of 2018, over 300 million acres worth of crops were protected through these Federal Crop Insurance policies, with the federal government subsidizing 60% of the policy premium in most cases. This covered farmland accounts for more than 83% of American crop acreage but, until now, completely excluded any legal hemp growth operations. 

Last week, the USDA released a statement announcing hemp’s new crop insurance qualification in much the same way that most Federal government hemp- and cannabis-related announcements are made: quietly. The release, posted on the USDA website, explains the program:

“Certain industrial hemp growers will be able to obtain insurance coverage under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program for crop year 2020. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) today announced coverage for hemp grown for fiber, flower or seeds, which will be available to producers who are in areas covered by USDA-approved hemp plans or who are part of approved state or university research pilot programs.”

Though the industry as a whole is thrilled about programs like these being implemented, the dragging slowness of change is painful, to say the least. This crop insurance qualification alone comes tediously close to a full year after hemp’s legalization as a crop in the United States. In that time, American CBD and hemp producers have been growing crops either completely at their own risk or with expensive insurance offered by private companies. 

Luckily, these new protective policies are likely to continue to evolve. While the USDA’s newly-announced Hemp Crop Insurance Coverage is somewhat barebones by nature, the organization’s Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre expects more robust solutions later on:

“Numerous producers are anxious for a way to protect their hemp crops from natural disasters. The WFRP policy will provide a safety net for them. We expect to be able to offer additional hemp coverage options as USDA continues implementing the 2018 Farm Bill.” 


Protection Against ‘Hot Crops’

Just days prior to the USDA’s announcement of hemp’s qualification for crop insurance, legal growers in Hawaii suffered circumstances that potentially could’ve been resolved by those forthcoming policies. Reports from several outlets at the beginning of the week told of the brutal destruction of over half of the state’s legal hemp plants due to a THC-heavy imbalance that produced hemp plants containing more than the legally-allowed 0.3% THC (also known as ‘hot crops’). As such, all affected plants were methodically destroyed--much to the dismay of producers, investors, and industry advocates alike. Shelley Choy of the Hawaii’s Agriculture Department offered some consolation that such incidents aid in future research:

“It’s honestly expected and fairly routine in the sense that it is really hard to grow a plant that is 0.3 % or below, and it is also really difficult in Hawaii because we have a really unique climate and photoperiod as compared to other states. So, genetics which work in other states don’t necessarily work the same here, and it is all experimental.

“That is why right now we are running a research pilot program. We are trying to figure all this out, and we haven’t figured it out yet.”

The ever-expanding body of research relevant to cannabis and hemp production is expected to improve the growth process to eliminate unexpected imbalances such as these, but until more is known of such complex procedures, losses like these are debilitating. The affected producers must deal with everything from loss of time and money to investor doubt, all of which can force an abrupt end to their endeavor. 

While growers, backers, medical professionals, and other followers wait for improved comprehension of the intricate growing process, the USDA’s open door to insurance coverage is something of a saving grace for all those involved. Growing hemp will no longer be a strictly high-risk endeavor; these new protections mean that production can occur in confidence while giving academic collaborators time to figure out those critical details. 

Green Light for Consultation

If you are considering treatment with medical cannabis for physical or mental symptom relief, or if you have any questions about hemp or cannabis use as part of a holistic approach towards achieving better overall wellness, be sure to first discuss your health goals with Doctor Jane or your licensed medical cannabis physician. There are many factors involved in determining whether cannabis is the appropriate course of action and developing a proper treatment plan. You can schedule a consultation for a time and location that is convenient for you using our website, or reach out to me directly via phone or text at (561) 406-0685. 

Today’s blog post is written by Rick Liogier-Weyback, MD, founder and president at Doctor Jane and our licensed medical cannabis physician. If you are considering cannabis treatment or are wondering if medical cannabis may be right for you, please contact our team at your earliest convenience.


About Doctor Jane

Doctor Jane is South Florida’s most discreet, professional, and convenient concierge medical cannabis practice. Dr. Luis Enrique R. Liogier-Weyback and his wife, Katie Liogier-Weyback, B.S., R.N., founded Doctor Jane on the core tenets of bringing personal, convenient, professional and discreet patient care to the medical cannabis treatment process. Doctor Jane provides South Florida patients and their caregivers with a safe space where they can exercise their right to access medical cannabis therapy in an environment of their choosing, free from stigma and complications. 

Visit our website to find out more or to schedule your own medical cannabis consultation. www.DoctorJane.net.