As the Region continues to stabilize from the damages caused by Hurricane Michael, the Apalachee Regional Planning Council is focused on expanding economic diversification and cultivating new opportunities for local farmers.

Florida’s timber industry took a devastating hit from Hurricane Michael, totaling in $1.3 billion in damages. With approximately 75% - 95% of the pine trees damaged or destroyed within the impacted area, it will take a decade or more for the timber industry to recover.  

Recent legislation surrounding industrial hemp opens a promising new market. Hemp can be used to create more than 25,000 products, from plastic replacements, construction and fiber materials and fertilizer but is most commonly associated with CBD, a non-euphoric cannabis chemical used as a medicine.

To help potential growers and processors, the Apalachee RPC is bringing together farmers, stakeholders, cultivation and production experts, economic development professionals and policymakers to discuss the challenges and opportunities of this emerging industry. The Apalachee RPC hosted two hemp summits within its Region. The 850 Hemp Summits brought nearly 500 people together, and covered a range of issues including current legislation, rules and regulations, research and development, as well as growing and processing hemp. Now that the summits have concluded, many of the farmers who attended are planning to tour established hemp farms in Tennessee and Kentucky. “We’re looking at whether there is opportunity to clear debris and plant a different crop,” Leon County Commissioner and Apalachee RPC Vice Chair Kristin Dozier said, noting that bringing hemp into the fold could be a positive change. “Many people are talking about rebuilding. We’re focused on building an economy. I think it's disruptive in a positive way and could be a huge benefit for our Region.”

Tallahassee, FL, October 2, 2019: Holly Bell, Director of the Office of Cannabis (FDACS) provides updates on the state of Florida’s hemp industry.

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In the meantime, should you experience any difficulty in accessing the ARPC website, please contact MFranklin@arpc.org