Seed World

Hemp Industry Coalition Advocates Policy Reform that Leverages Seed Certification

Today, a coalition of hemp industry advocates and stakeholders announced they are launching the “Value the Seed” campaign. This policy reform initiative, when adopted, will enable U.S. hemp farmers who use and plant Certified seed that meets or exceeds the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) standards, to be exempt from burdensome regulations, including THC testing.

Quality, proven seed genetics are the foundation for building consistent, uniform plant-based products. Seed certification validates these characteristics. In addition, each lot of Certified hemp seed produced in the U.S is validated for compliance with federally mandated low THC standards through U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations. Larry Smart, a professor in Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, leads the university’s hemp research and extension team.

“The domestic production of Certified seed is a well-established system to ensure quality, uniformity, and true pedigreed cultivar seed,” Smart says. “Strengthening and expanding the production of low THC-compliant Certified hemp seed is a critical step to advance the hemp industry by mitigating the risk to growers and assuaging the concerns of regulators.”

Unfortunately, during the “green rush” to market CBD, poorly bred seed genetics led in large part to the downturn and reputational damage in the hemp market, alienating producers and serving as a warning for potential new adopters. This experience hastened the industry’s realization that genetic quality matters. Reputable hemp seed providers differentiate themselves by seeking third-party validation of claims, including collaboration with and evaluation by land-grant universities, crop improvement organizations, and seed certifiers that validate crop standards for hemp as set forth by AOSCA.

The Value the Seed initiative proposes that the hemp supply chain should function as responsibly if not more responsibly, than any other plant-based industry by using validated genetics. Certified seed varieties. This initiative proposes shifting the burden of verifying THC compliance to Certified seed producers, eliminating the need for farmers to undergo background checks, crop inspections, and fees.

John Read, CEO of Whitefield Hemp Partners, a hemp grain and fiber processor comments, “As a grower and a processor, the onerous hemp regulations give me pause. Getting an exemption from those regulations through proven seed is a great solution to clean up the industry and attract new growers.”

This path is feasible because extensive research at Cornell University and Colorado State University has proven that in well-bred hemp varieties, those that are genetically pure and stable, cannabinoids are under genetic control — not environmental influence as previously believed. Seed certification validates genetic purity and stability, and THC compliance validation through federal regulations, in the seed production field, for every lot, every time.

This solution comes at a critical moment as hemp industry stakeholders and regulatory agencies wrestle with improving hemp production policy in the discussion over the upcoming Farm Bill. Through this legislative effort, Value the Seed will promote sensible regulations that professionalize the industry while unburdening both hemp farmers and state regulators.

Wendy Mosher, CEO of New West Genetics, a hemp industry veteran comments: “There has never been a more pertinent time for our rural communities to benefit both environmentally and economically from the many uses of hemp. A strong foundation based on Certified seed will give larger food, feed, and materials manufacturers assurance and incentive to adopt this crop as animal feed, a plant-based food ingredient, and a source of renewable materials.”

Reliable Certified seed ensures success across this agricultural supply chain, removing the need to police American farmers who plant Certified seed from proven hemp varieties.