An amendment that puts tight restrictions on hemp production in Portugal goes against European Union law and puts the country’s nascent industry in peril, stakeholders said after the legislation went into effect last Thursday, Jan. 6.
Humberto Nogueira, vice president of the Industrial Hemp Trade Association of Portugal (ACCIP), said growers are alarmed over a number of provisions that seem aimed specifically at shutting down trade in hemp flowers.
Flower transport banned
Most alarming is a rule that prohibits the transportation of hemp flowers from the farm where they are grown – essentially banning trade for one of the most valuable plant components.
“There is no legal basis to limit the trade of the entire hemp plant,” Nogueira said of the restriction. “At the same time, it limits the profitability of producers and farmers, something that is reflected in less hired labor and less fixed and seasonal employment.”
The amendment also prohibits hemp growing in indoor and greenhouse facilities, requires growers to put in at least 0.5 hectares, and sets restrictions on the use and handling of cultivation seeds – all of which are disincentivizing to hemp farmers and processors, Nogueira said.
The amendment does not provide a legal basis for interfering in farming practices for hemp, which is a legal, certified, and subsidized agricultural crop in the European Union (EU), Nogueira noted, suggesting specifically that the rule on the minimum area for hemp growing overrides a general rule from the Institute for Financing Agriculture and Fisheries (IFAP ) which sets 100 sq. meters as the minimum for standard crops.
“The requirement of a minimum area of 0.5 hectares to obtain industrial hemp cultivation authorization is a limiting factor for thousands of small farmers in Portugal,” Nogueira said. The amendment also fails to provide justification for sanctions related to non-compliance of that provision, according to Nogueira.
Looking for logic
Nogueira said restrictions on the use of planting seed in the amendment promote waste while further disincentivizing flower producers. “It does not allow the farmer to cultivate seed for sowing due to the risk of contamination of a punctured bag, but it authorizes its direct processing for human and animal food,” Nogueira said.
“In general, there is clearly in the new ordinance an intention to totally eliminate the chances of producers to obtain profitability with the hemp flower, regardless of the purpose that the buyer of the harvest will give to the product,” Nogueira said.
With reporting from Cannareporter.eu