YEAR IN REVIEW
2020 has been a very challenging year for most and the hemp industry is no exception. With everything from COVID to political turmoil and divisiveness to financial hardships, it is probably safe to say that 2020 is a year most of us are happy to have in the rearview mirror!
Throughout the year NHA has been hard at work advocating for change and bringing many new and exciting initiatives and benefits for our members.Year end is traditionally a time for reflection, we invite you to take a walk with us down memory lane and review all that’s transpired throughout the year and take a look ahead to what 2021 may bring!
It was January when we proudly announced that New Holland Agriculture, one of the world’s leading agricultural and construction equipment manufacturers partnered with us to accelerate the return of hemp as a commodity crop to farmlands across North America, under the banner “Pushing Progress Together”.
As part of this partnership, the National Hemp Association will participate alongside New Holland at national farm shows throughout North America to build out this sustainable new
industry and will provide educational sessions and panel discussions as well as exhibit the multitude of products that can be produced from the hemp crop.
The alliance will also seek to move forward on solving the industry’s biggest challenge: the absence of commercial scale harvesting and decortication equipment uniting the demand of
the product to the farmers that supply it. In order to begin laying the foundation of an integrated North American hemp supply chain, the alliance calls on other partners –
corporations and entities to join a “Hemp Pledge” and commit to purchasing hemp grown and processed in the U.S. by U.S. farmers.
“We see this exclusive partnership as a way to bring the nation’s leading hemp advocates and educators to events where they can respond to the issues of most concern to farmers,
manufacturers, processors and the general public”, says Brett Davis, Vice President, New Holland, North America. “It too will provide New Holland with the opportunity to hear from
our dealer network, our customers and the more than 115,000 farmers who are looking to New Holland to bring forward supply chain solutions”.
In February USDA announced that hemp permit holders will no longer be required to use DEA certified labs for their compliance testing. States were also granted more leeway in dealing with ‘hot crops’ as they had been doing in previous years. We experienced the undertaking of simultaneous events at separate ends of the country with our partnership with New Holland. Little did we know at the time that these would be our last in person events for 2020.
USDA held their 96th Agricultural Outlook Forum in February. Their Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture track featured a Hemp Markets Prospects panel, moderated by Under Secretary Greg Ibach and included USDA General Counsel Stephen Vaden. The room was packed, with a standing room only audience of public and private sector attendees. We appreciated Under Secretary Ibach for his recognition of the important work of NHA
NHA was actively involved in the Lehigh County Vs Grossman matter. Mr. Grossman Sr., who spent 2 months in a Lehigh County prison, had his charges dropped. His son was not that lucky. He was forced by the DA to plead guilty to possession of THC and pay a $5,000 fine. We have taken steps across the country to ensure that there will be no repeat of these cases by rogue District Attorneys who may want to take advantage of small errors of omission in state legislation, rather than look to the intention of the legislators who have embraced the potential of hemp.
Well, what can we say about March other than it was the month that we all came to realize that COVID was real and it was going to have dramatic effects
on our lives. Although at that point few of us could predicts exactly how dramatic and long lasting COVID was going to haunt us.
As part of the preventive measures mandated by health authorities, a wide variety of hemp expos and business conferences had been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Many events eventually had to be postponed a second time, cancelled or moved into virtual events.
The coronavirus outbreak also created disruptions for hemp cultivators, processors, and other companies that rely on overseas businesses for their packaging and product needs. Some CBD processors switched their lines to to start making hand sanitizer which was in high demand and short supply. Some other hemp products saw an increase in demand such as facemasks which have become a part of all of our lives.
You spoke and we took action: More Protection for Hemp Businesses in CARES Act. After learning from our members and other associations that farmers were not eligible for the COVID relief packages, we reached out to our contacts at the SBA, USDA and the White House. All responded quickly and expressed their support for American farmers and acted accordingly.
April was also the month we launched our Hemp Pledge initiative to build a collective of like minded entities and individuals to help promote hemp as a way to support American farmers, businesses and to build local, sustainable supply chains. As we look to build out the supply chain and encourage investment in infrastructure, taking the pledge demonstrates the overwhelming corporate and public support for our industry!
Sadly, April also brought the devastating news of the passing of Charlotte Figi. As many of you know, Charlotte’s story aired on CNN some 7 years ago. It motivated many and had lasting positive impacts on the hemp industry and helped educate many of the importance of CBD. While her time with us was short, her legacy will live on forever.
May was the month that as an organization we started to really see the impacts covid was having on our members and us. Like many organizations, we have been impacted by a reduction in membership contributions, but we have built the organization to withstand unpredictable events such as the COVID-19 crisis.
During the past 6-12 months hemp has been drastically impacted. After hemp biomass and related wholesale oil has dropped 90%+ in price; many companies have found themselves over leveraged and underfunded to achieve their goals. Some companies have completely closed, others have been forced into bankruptcy, while some teeter on the cusp of one or the
other. Financial strength in the industry is not something many can boast, as even some of the largest companies continue to take on debt to maintain operations.
If hemp wants to become a major agricultural crop, it must be versatile and have purposes outside of CBD oil. We need fiber, seed, textiles, etc. that will add to or replace uses of cotton and other crops. Ideas for hemp usage in construction, paper alternatives, and technology could also help increase the need for production, but all of this would be non-cannabinoid related. What
everyone may know by now is that hemp’s future is not a bust, but only the beginning. The future does not reside solely in the cannabinoid market, but in the endless alternatives offered from the hemp plant.
Social inequity and injustice are not unique to the BIPOC community. In fact most, if not all, minority groups and women have consistently faced numerous obstacles and have had the scales tipped against them for a very long time. As a new and developing industry we have the opportunity and obligation to do better. To lead and to show the country a better way.
NHA has taken a strong stance in promoting diversity long before the tragic recent events. We fought consistently against the felon ban snuck into the 2018 Farm Bill, we’ve shared blog posts highlighting the need for diversity in the cannabis industry and our Chair, Geoff Whaling has stated at every USDA and other public speaking engagement, “This is a once in a lifetime
opportunity. We will only grasp the staggering potential of hemp if we empower ALL people to participate, regardless of background. We need to get this right!”
In June we announced a new initiative to uplift and acknowledge companies that have strong diversity plans that include their investors, boards and employees and are willing to be audited to monitor their progress in reaching their diversity goals. We are actively engaging BIPOC voices along with other minority and women’s voices.
In July the National Hemp Association (NHA) announced the initiation of its NHA Certification Program utilizing the credentialing badge service Credly.
This program is a response to provide our Members, stakeholders and the public with comfort that they are interacting with a National Hemp Association Member. “Certified NHA” will help address the ongoing issues of digital security and servicer authentication.
“The NHA realizes the trust our Members place in us and our information. We want them to not only have confidence in our role in the industry, but a way to validate our fellow industry professionals and members.”
Utilization of the service will make the NHA the first hemp non-profit to utilize such authorization / credentialing measures as it seeks to protect both its members and its own communications.
“We have seen attempts for others to pass themselves off as NHA staff or Board Members and will now have the technology to defeat these efforts and ensure all communications and community activities are valid.” “One of the core benefits of association membership is access to a community of like-minded organizations and individuals who come together to network, learn, and grow,” said Jonathan Finkelstein, CEO of Credly. “With its new digital credentials on Credly, National Hemp Association expands the reach and potential impact of its community with verified proof of membership.”
The Annual General Meeting of the National Hemp Association, the largest nonpartisan member based hemp advocacy group in the nation, was held August 26, 2020 and included an agenda, themed around building trust, that presented a solid financial foundation for the organization that will allow it to address the pressing issues confronting the industry in both the short and long term.
“Being respectful of how we invest and expend our member’s annual dues has not only allowed us to weather the challenges of COVID-19, but has allowed NHA to step up to fill the voids created by other organization’s mismanagement of their own funds”, said Geoff Whaling, Chair of the National Hemp Association.
Whaling highlighted the actions and accomplishments that NHA Board Members Christine Ianuzzi, Alex Seleznov and staff have undertaken, since its last AGM, on behalf of its membership to include: During the AGM, which had the largest number of attendees in NHA’s history, the Board of Directors introduced its newest appointed Board Member, Brett Davis, VP
of New Holland Agriculture, head of one of the largest agricultural equipment manufacturers in the world.
NHA Treasurer, Alex Seleznov, presented his report which highlighted the work that has gone into ensuring, over the last three years, that NHA has a 2-year cash reserve that would allow it to continue its operations and weather the challenges, including the contraction of membership due to COVID-19.
Standing Committee of Hemp Organizations
The National Hemp Association Standing Committee of Hemp Organizations worked hard on our first major task of the committee, submitting comments to USDA to get improvements to the IFR. NHA has assembled an unparalleled team representing state and regional hemp organizations from across the country. Together we are a powerful team creating a unified voice for our industry.
Harvest season was in full swing and in states that are operating under the USDA rules we have seen first-hand the challenges they created. In particular the combination of the sampling protocols being top flower only along with the short 15-day harvest window has increased the number of hot crops. We have also seen several cases of lab mix ups as they scramble to turn around tests quickly.
The good news is that USDA reopened the public comment period which gave us an additional opportunity to request much needed changes to the Interim Final Rule. Language was also introduced to extend the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill through 2021.
In our first major collaboration with our Standing Committee of Hemp Organizations (SCOHO) we submitted comments to USDA in the reopened comment period about the USDA Interim Final Rule (IFR).
Our major talking points and request are as follows:
• Change the sample to be a whole plant composite
• USDA issued Processor Permits to close the legal gap between farm and
• Change harvest window from 15 day to 30 business days
• Change negligence level to at least 1%
• Eliminate DEA certified lab requirement
• Provide options other than destruction for hot crop
You can read the full submitted comments here.
SCOHO Requests Executive Order to establish Federal Advisory Committee on Hemp
In our second collaboration with our Standing Committee of Hemp Organizations (SCOHO) we submitted a letter to the White House to seek the following executive
You can read the full submitted letter here.
Social Equity Conscious Business Badge
Proudly show to your customers that you care about diversity and social equity. Participating in the NHA SECB Badging programs proves that your company meets our standards of excellence. Social Equity Conscious Business (SECB) is an extension of our Social Equity Initiative and mission.
If you are a business that encourages and has implemented diversity practices and inclusivity within your company, please read more on how you can receive a Social Equity Conscious Business Badge and become a SECB participant.
The Standing Committee of Hemp Organizations (SCOHO) welcomed our newest member, US Hemp Building Association. (USHBA)
Jacob Waddell serves as President of the USHBA and represents them on the SCOHO. Jacob has also been appointed to serve as the SCOHO Secretary.
Samantha Walsh of the COHIA was appointed vice chair of the committee. The committee continues to meet regularly and is working on some exciting initiatives for 2021!
In December we learned that the USDA has submitted it Final Rule to the Office of Management and Budgets (OMB) for its review. While we do not know what is in it, we expect that it will be released to the public sometime in the first quarter of 2021.
The US government will be under new leadership, including USDA. If confirmed, Tom Vilsack will be the new Secretary of Agriculture. He previously served in this position under the Obama administration when the 2014 Farm Bill was passed. We are hopeful this is will good for our industry!
We also learned, as of right now, the DEA considers all hemp extracts that are Delta 9 THC compliant to be federally legal. This would include Delta 8 products. Some good news to end the year with.
Work with WHO/UN that started in January, knowing the the Single Treaty on Drugs was up for discussion in December, bore fruit with the adoption of new language. WHO discussions continue and, NHA continues to be consulted by federal Agencies as international member nations begin to submit language to WHO defining hemp. NHA, working with our international sister organizations – CHTA and EHIA, continues to advocate for language defining hemp as contained in the 2018 farm Bill is adopted by international nations – to ensure the establishment of US hemp industry and an export market.
As we look ahead to 2021 there is much work to do and we look forward to continuing to serve you. Thank you for your continued support, we couldn’t do it without you!
Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2021!