Tucked away in a small, three-acre field behind his barns, Jon Lang’s hemp crop is flourishing.
Lang has always been in the horticulture business, previously operating a garden shop on the property, as well as a tree nursery with over 21,000 trees. The two restored barns at Lang Farm are also known as a gorgeous backdrop for local weddings.
This spring, with his already-established agricultural knowledge and research done in Colorado and at national conferences, Lang entered the hemp business with his son. Together they planted three acres of hemp, which, in just five weeks, have matured into plants almost four feet tall.
The species of hemp that Lang grows on the property is Cannabis sativa and is specifically bred to have lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical compound that produces psychoactive effects in the brain, and more cannabidiol, or CBD, which is thought to have therapeutic, medicinal benefits according to several studies.
“What we’re focusing on in this product is the cannabidiol, CBD, for pain relief, anxiety issues,” Lang explained. He expressed enthusiasm for proper research that can finally be conducted to explore more of the plant’s health benefits now that the product has been legalized.
“It’s a very professional and upscale business,” Lang said. “It has a very capitalistic side to it for sure.”
Lang has already promised this year’s crop of hemp to Kria, an investment and consulting service working with local farmers and entrepreneurs in Vermont. Kria will extract the CBD from his plants, and Lang will sell them the extracted product.
“Instead of trying to be our own little sail in the wind, I thought we’d partner up with these guys,” Lang said. “By pairing up with someone of that scale and scope and ability, it gives us a pretty secure foundation to make this kind of investment work in time.”
Lang expressed his desire to expand his production to around 10 acres next spring if this year’s crops do well. He’s confident, citing the extraordinary size of his plants already this season.
Lang’s business is one of over 330 registered hemp farms in Vermont, which comprise over 2,300 acres of agricultural lands in the state – and the number is constantly growing due to some recent help from the legislature.
On July 1, new legislation took effect that required Vermont hemp farmers to register their operations with the state to be compliant with the 2014 Farm Bill.
By registering with the Vt. Agency of Agriculture, hemp farmers are allowed to import hemp seeds from other Farm Bill-compliant states, as well as sell their product to out-of-state markets, said Cary Giguere, agricultural resource management section chief with the Agency of Ag. In return, hemp farmers must participate in the state pilot research program on hemp.
Additionally, the state’s new Cannabis Quality Control Program will test farmers’ products for THC levels to ensure they don’t have higher than .3 percent THC so it can be sold as hemp and not cannabis.
To participate, hemp farmers pay an annual registration fee of $25 which directly supports the program, including research and quality control. The entire piece of legislation supports a more regulated market for hemp and will benefit farmers, Giguere said.
“It makes it easier for folks to participate in this new agricultural opportunity,” Giguere said, adding the new legislation will expand Vermont’s ag economy and provide more opportunities for farmers.
Lang fully supports the new state program, citing benefits not only to farmers, but community members as well.
“My goal is to get it out of the school system,” Lang said passionately. “Let it be a substance that is legal, obtainable, taxable and profitable for all people involved in the growing and distribution chain in a legalized fashion.”