An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

April 2015 Archives

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The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has received word from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency that its registration to import hemp seed has been approved.

This follows months of discussion between the two agencies about specificts of Tennessee's industrial hemp pilot program that have farmers unsure they'll get the hemp seed in time to plant a crop. The good news is no additional restrictions have been set on the program regarding acreage or number of participants, said Corinne Gould, TDA deputy director of public affairs.

Tennessee's initial applications totalled more than 2,100 acres by 53 growers, far exceeding those from nearby states like Kentucky that have launched similar programs.

It means planting is one step closer to reality, but more approvals wrangling is ahead.

TDA should receive its registration information in the next few days, but it still has to apply for specific import permits, which also must be DEA approved, said Gould. No time frame for that process has been given. The department plans to order seed from Canada and Australia, each of which must follow particular export rules for their country. 

As such, there's still not a firm date for when the seed will be distributed, and the clock is ticking. Farmers need to plant by late May or early June for the best crop.

Photo: In this May 19, 2014 file photo, a farmer holds a handful of hemp seeds, on a day of planting in Sterling, Colo. (AP Photo/Kristen Wyatt, File)

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Knoxville will host the fourth annual Tennessee Bike Summit April 23-24 at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Cyclists, planners, engineers and government officials will gather to attend sessions and workshops on advocacy, education, planning and infrastructure.

Ahead of that event, the city has released a list of 20 bicycle-friendly improvements it's prioritizing for the next few years -- out of 120 that were recommended in a recent study.

Topping the list is a plan to widen the stretch of Chapman Highway that cyclists take to get across the Henley Bridge to UT or downtown destinations and add a dedicated bike lane.

Photo: University of Tennessee student Christopher Allen bikes on the sidewalk en route to campus last week on Chapman Highway. The city has completed a study recommending  upgrades to Knoxville's bicycle infrastructure, including a $700,000 Chapman Highway project the city hopes to fund with a federal grant distributed through TDOT. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

That state of Tennessee will now share costs for farmers here to earn the USDA organic certification

Certified organic producers can apply to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for a 75 percent cost share up to a maximum of $750 to help defray costs related to receiving and maintaining organic certification, including inspection costs. Organic operations that have achieved certification since October 1, 2014 meet the time qualification to seek reimbursement, as do organic operations that become certified between now and September 30, 2015.

Organic certification typically costs small farm producers between $600 and $1,000 annually. Costs increase based on product and sales volume.

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