Hemp Expert Doug Fine on Boosting Billion-Dollar Hemp Industry With Farm Bill Update


Hemp Expert Doug Fine

On Boosting Billion-Dollar Hemp Industry

With Farm Bill Update

In a statement,

Fine supports changing current arbitrary rules,

Which will help increase hemp acreage

and further expedite

meaningful climate mitigation

After Emceeing and Speaking

at Souther Hemp Expo

And Montana State Hemp

And Cannabis Fest This Summer,

Fine Heads to Las Vegas

for MJBizCon in November

(LOS ANGELES) Hemp and regenerative-living expert Doug Fine knows more than most about planting, cultivating, and harvesting hemp. He says, “with my own ranch currently inundated by historic flooding, it’s clear that humanity is in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs when it comes to climate.” Through his extensive research and experience, Fine knows that hemp farming is a proven way to mitigate climate change by cleaning the soil and sequestering carbon. This is why he’s supporting fellow American farmers as they urge Congress to revise a few unworkable hemp-farming regulations set forth in the 2018 Farm Bill.

In a statement, Fine argues that although the “monumental” 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law four years ago this December, helped open the door to a billion-dollar industry by legalizing farming low-THC hemp—arbitrary regulations for THC content force farmers to destroy up to 40% of their crops. Fine backs a request from thousands of farmers like himself to raise the limit from 0.3% to 1% (psychoactive cannabis contains 20% or more THC), saying it will significantly improve hemp production by stopping such crop losses.

Using, instead of destroying, this portion of domestic hemp crops is a win-win for all. Hemp is a cost-effective, soil-building crop, and every part of the plant has a use, including as biomaterial and superfood. Most importantly, farming hemp sequesters carbon and helps mitigate climate change.  

Fine’s complete statement:  

The 2018 Farm Bill was monumental for one of humanity’s longest utilized plants, hemp. Not only did that Farm Bill legalize the low-THC (non-psychoactive) version of the cannabis plant, creating a billion-dollar farming industry within three years, but it was the first concrete step toward the end of the nearly 80-year war on cannabis.

Now a new Farm Bill is being discussed. The young hemp industry, while growing as large as half a million acres before a recent downturn, has had the normal growing pains of any new industry and the future looks bright if a few key changes are made in the upcoming Farm Bill.

The first and most important change is the raising of the arbitrary current THC definition of hemp. Right now, the law forces farmers to get inspections and if their hemp flower contains more than 0.3% THC—which is very difficult to maintain since the plant needs the compound for predator defense and other reasons—the crop must be destroyed. This has been happening in up to 40% of hemp crops. We must support farmers, not test, challenge or suspect them.

Psychoactive cannabis contains 20% or more THC in the flower. So in the upcoming Farm Bill farmers are asking for a raise to a still low 1% THC for the definition of hemp.

Equally importantly, farmers who grow hemp for food or fiber must be exempted from testing. The reason for that needed change is that when you grow for food or fiber, the flowers are not used for public consumption, so the final product will not have THC regardless of the THC level in the crop’s flower.

In my view, a third change to current federal hemp policy would also help farmers: today, regulatory control determines the number of days between THC testing and harvest. Such arbitrary harvest date mandates ought to be eliminated. Farmers know how to farm. Overall, as I’ve written in my books, I think the hemp industry is off to a good start, with the usual new industry bumps. And I haven’t been shy about appreciating the regulatory support to that end. Both the USDA and many states (including my own, in New Mexico) would like farmers to succeed. Thousands of hemp farmers, like myself, would appreciate these minor and helpful tweaks.

Lastly, hemp farmers are heroes, sequestering carbon to fight climate change, growing superfood to combat obesity and diabetes. There should not be a requirement for a federal FBI background check for people who want a hemp permit.

Hemp was George Washington’s favorite crop. At the 2018 hemp harvest I was filming at Mount Vernon, I asked Mount Vernon’s then-Interpretive Program Supervisor Deborah Colburn what George Washington would think to learn that hemp had been banned for a lifetime. Without hesitating, she told me (on-camera, for my forthcoming American Hemp Farmer TV show), “He’d think that was a crime.”

Multiple farmers I know have refused to submit to this outrage; It is as absurd to demand background checks on hemp farmers as it is tomato farmers. Senator Mitch McConnell promised a “lightly regulated” hemp industry five years ago and it’s time to make that promise a reality.

Under current policy, farmers who are taking a risk to switch from soil- and gut-damaging GMO corn, soy, wheat or cotton, are threatened with crop destruction and burdened with worries about their production process going “hot,” or above 0.3% (an absurd level which even the researchers who chose it called “arbitrary”).

With all cannabis legal for a majority of Americans, it is time to reduce regulatory burdens for the hemp farmers who are trying to sequester carbon and grow healthy crops and products. I know I eat hemp every day, wear it most days, and use it to build soil in my work.

Doug Fine carrying heavy burlap hemp seed bags
Doug Fine planting hemp
Doug Fine’s hemp sprout
Doug Fine’s polyculture farming – hemp and peach tree
Doug Fine and his 2022 Summer Hemp Harvest on his Funky Butte Ranch.
Doug Fine and his 2022 Summer Hemp Harvest on his Funky Butte Ranch.

Doug Fine is the author of six books including American Hemp Farmer (2020, Chelsea Green Publishing) and the Boston Globe Bestseller, Farewell, My Subaru. His writings and expertise have led to media appearances (Conan, The Tonight Show, BBC, CNN) as well as a TED Talk (TEDxABQ) and testimony before the United Nations regarding international drug policies. He has raised goats and cultivated superfoods (including hemp since its 2018 legalization) for more than a decade and taught his methods of cultivation and seed building at Vermont’s Sterling College and online at

Most recently, Doug has cultivated hemp for food, farm-to-table products and seed-building in six U.S. states. His own hemp seeds have been used to clean contaminated soil in a New Mexico University study. Fine further spreads the word about culture and climate change with his award-winning journalism, which includes contributing to the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, and being a long-time correspondent for National Public Radio from five continents. In the past year, he has spoken at SXSW’s Climate Change Track, NoCo Expo, Southern Hemp Expo, and the Montana State Hemp and Cannabis Festival. In November. Las Vegas will be hosting the MJBizCon, and Fine will be making his way to the desert oasis to meet with the gathered community and to co-host regenerative advising breakfasts.

Fine, who notes that “being outside in a farm or garden is the most fun you can have outside the bedroom,” has also launched his on-line course, “Hemp Gardening: Growing Food Security and Fighting Climate Change.” The comprehensive, self-paced, Acres USA program takes aspiring hemp farmers through the entire soil-to-product process, from seed acquisition to market. For more information or to register for the course, go to:

None of us would be here today, he says, if not for the regenerative lifestyle-and it’s only recently that humanity stopped living that way. So Fine hopes that we can reactivate that “instinctive regenerative awareness” and start working together to save the planet. Experienced, grounded, and a keen wit, Fine is the perfect person to shepherd us through the conversion.

Now in production and seeking distribution, his American Hemp Farmer television series, which is based on Fine’s best-selling sixth book of the same name, secured its opening sponsorship with Dr. Bronner’s, a top selling brand of soaps. As with the book, the series will see Fine—a former suburbanite—sharing his hard-won regenerative hemp farming expertise, which he admits is rooted in trial and error.

“We don’t all have to become farmers. This time, farmers can lead the way while everybody supports them through lifestyle tweaks. Buying their locally-sourced products, getting our produce from community-supported food co-ops or farmer’s markets, or even working in community gardens are all valuable contributions.”

As the American Hemp Farmer series moves closer to greenlight, Doug Fine is available for interviews and further speaking engagements in spring/summer 2022. A website of Fine’s print and radio work, United Nations testimony, television appearances and TED Talk is at Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @organiccowboy.

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Doug Fine’s “American Hemp Farmer” Sizzle Reel (2:47)
TV Series in development and available for distribution.