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Industrial hemp production was legalized by 2018 federal legislation.

A bipartisan group of Virginia’s congressional delegation is advocating for the state’s inclusion in a federal crop insurance program for industrial hemp.

AgriLogic Consulting LLC is working to develop a federal yield-based crop insurance program for industrial hemp, which has been growing in popularity since the passage of the 2018 farm bill legalized the production of the crop.

But there was concern Virginia, which had more than 800 registered growers as of July, would not be eligible for the program. In response, Virginia’s two U.S. senators and six members of the House of Representatives wrote a joint letter to AgriLogic asking for the state to be included.

The following officials signed the Sept. 25 letter: Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Denver Riggleman, Morgan Griffith, Ben Cline, Abigail Spanberger, Elaine Luria and Don Beyer.

“We have concerns that Virginia is not currently under consideration for a pilot program for the 2020 growing season, despite having a robust Industrial Hemp Program that has led to exponential growth in hemp production over the past year, as well as a prior centuries-long history of hemp being a key commodity in Virginia agriculture,” the letter states.

Growers indicated to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services they intended to plant some 8,500 acres of hemp this year. The letter says the agency projects up to 15,000 acres of hemp could be planted by the 2020 growing season.

“If these projections are met, Virginia would be one of the top hemp-producing states in the country by acre,” the letter reads.

The politicians said they wanted to make sure Virginia hemp growers would be protected from “unforeseen disasters” by having crop insurance available to them.

The letter appears to have struck a chord with AgriLogic officials.

“We received the letter and we’ll do our best to get Virginia included in the initial submission,” said Kim Harris, senior policy analyst.

Though the program will be developed by AgriLogic, it’s up to the USDA Federal Crop Insurance Corp.’s board to approve it.

The company expects to submit its plans to the FCIC in early October and would then make a presentation on the program at the board’s next meeting. Harris said the goal is to get the program in place for 2020, but that can’t be guaranteed and will depend on FCIC’s actions.

Harris said Virginia officials, both in politics and agriculture, have been strong advocates for hemp farmers.

“They’ve worked hard for the growers,” she said.

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