Chaos in UK means £200,000 in losses for hemp co-op

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A UK hemp farming operation has destroyed its 2019 crop after failing to receive a growing license amid continuing regulatory confusion. Hempen, which is based in Goring Heath, Oxfordshire, said it will lose £200,000 (€220,00 / $243,000) as a result of the canceled harvest.

“Instead of capitalizing on the booming CBD industry, the Home Office’s bureaucracy is leading British farmers to destroy their own crops, and millions of pounds’ worth of CBD flowers are being left to rot in the fields,” Hempen co-founder Patrick Gillett said.

The UK’s Home Office last year blocked the farming of hemp flowers for CBD, but indicated hemp could still be grown for seed and stalk, which Hempen planned to do this growing season. But government officials later told Hempen to cease production entirely.

40 acres of hemp destroyed

Hempen said it would appeal the decision but in the meantime has cut down and crushed the crop from its 40 acres of hemp fields to remain within the law.

Hempen, a not-for-profit cooperative started in 2015, said it had held a hemp growing license for three years, and had expected further approval of its application filed last December. But the company was recently notified of the application’s rejection.

Hempen said it had been clear in statements submitted each year to the Home Office regarding how its hemp harvest was to be used. The Home Office raised no issues with the intended use of the plant over the course of the three-year license, the company said.

Company officials said Hempen plans to stay in business by changing its strategy to become an importer of CBD to the UK, which is legal.

‘Green shoots of hope’?

“In challenging economic times for British farmers, hemp is offering green shoots of hope as a rare crop that can pay for itself without subsidy,” Gillett said. “The government should move the responsibility of regulating farmers over to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)” and out of the Home Office, he added.

Hempen’s product portfolio has been based on organic hemp seed oil, hemp tea, moisturizing oils and CBD products.

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