NPA Criticizes Senate for Excluding Funding for CBD Health Safety Evaluation

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, October 2019
By Steven Hoffman

The Natural Products Association (NPA), based in Washington, DC, reported that the U.S. Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee failed to include legislation passed earlier this summer in the House of Representatives that would have appropriated $100,000 for the FDA to perform a health hazard evaluation on CBD. The health hazard evaluation would have determined and set a safe use level for the consumption of CBD. This process has precedent, allowing FDA to exercise enforcement discretion on natural products that contain levels of an approved drug ingredient, most notably red yeast rice, reported Nutritional Outlook. The Senate agriculture committee only included language that instructed FDA to report back to them in 90 days, but otherwise, no meaningful progress was made in regulating CBD products, NPA said. “What we saw today was the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee fail to include any meaningful legislative language that would force the FDA to do its job when it comes to CBD. Sadly, this approach will lead to nothing but problems. We are seeing that play out with the vaping crisis and we are desperately hoping to avoid that with CBD,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of NPA, in a statement. “This should have been an easy choice for the committee, they should have taken their lead from the U.S. House of Representatives where Congressman (Jerry) McNerney had already had an amendment pass that would actually protect American consumers. However, the fight is not over. We are continuing our work to ensure that the one in seven Americans that use a CBD product everyday have the ability to believe that the FDA is doing its job, and not taking the path of least resistance. We encourage everyone to tell their Congressman and Senators to set a safe level of daily consumption for CBD,” Fabricant said.

40% of Adults Have Tried CBD in States Where it Is Legal

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, October 2019
By Steven Hoffman

Cannabidiol “isn’t just for a select few people,” claims market research firm The NPD Group. Nearly 20% of adults have tried CBD in states where it is legal, and almost half of them have used it recently, reported Darren Seifer, Executive Director, Industry Analyst for The NPD Group. This figure is expected to increase rapidly as CBD is appearing in snack foods and beverages, consumers are getting more comfortable with the idea and just as many people plan to try it as are currently using it, he says. “There is definitely interest on the part of consumers in CBD but its future in the mass market is dependent on legalization, which is now a patchwork of state legislation,” says Seifer. “Even with the complexities of legalization, consumer acceptance and adoption of CBD as a food and medicine is an important topic for food manufacturers to keep on their radar screens.” The Port Washington, NY-based market research firm said among those consumers using CBD, 40% of them are “seeking to better themselves with food and beverage choices…a stat that reflects the increasing use of food as medicine by consumers.”

Whole Foods Market Expands Topical CBD Products to 359 Locations in 30 States

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, October 2019
By Steven Hoffman

Concerned in the past that it might present itself as a “high profile target” to regulators, Whole Foods Market has moved slowly in carrying natural products made with full spectrum hemp extract and CBD. However, as market demand explodes for these products, Whole Foods is taking the plunge by increasing its offerings of topical CBD products. The leading natural and organic products retailer announced in September it is expanding distribution of topical CBD products, making them available in 359 Whole Foods Market locations in 30 states across the country. Whole Foods also announced it is adding exclusive CBD bath items from Pacha Soap Co. “Our shoppers have expressed a growing interest in CBD products,” said Jennifer Coleman, Global Senior Category Merchant for Whole Foods Market in a press release. “We’re thrilled to roll out topical CBD products in even more stores and to share new, exclusive items from our longstanding supplier partner Pacha Soap Co.” As of September 2019, Whole Foods Market now carries topical CBD products in 30 states including: Alabama, Arkansas*, Arizona*, California*, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia*, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas*, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan*, Mississippi, Missouri*, Nevada*, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma*, Oregon, Pennsylvania*, South Carolina*, Tennessee, Texas*, Utah, Virginia* and Wisconsin.

As with all body care items sold at Whole Foods Market, the retailer says the new CBD products meet the grocer’s rigorous body care quality standards, which ban parabens, phthalates, triclosan and more than 100 other questionable ingredients used in conventional body care products. (* New distribution as of September 2019.)

Grocery Manufacturers Association Announces Name Change, Renewed Focus

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, October 2019
By Steven Hoffman

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), representing some of the world’s largest consumer packaged goods companies, on September 26 announced it will change its name to the Consumer Brands Association (CBA), effective January 2020. The new identity is part of a sweeping overhaul of the 110-year old trade organization, led by President and CEO Geoff Freeman and the GMA board of directors. “We represent an industry of iconic brands that are innovative, forward-looking and touch the lives of every American,” Freeman said. As the new Consumer Brands Association, we are making a game-changing shift to unite the totality of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry around a focused, proactive agenda that aligns with the values of the brands we represent and the consumers they serve.” In a statement GMA added, “This is about more than a new name or new logo. Our brand change reflects a sea change — we are a new organization, representing the totality of the consumer packaged goods industry and establishing a new presence in Washington and beyond. The transformation of our organization reflects today’s era of transparency and consumer-first thinking.” GMA says its new advocacy agenda represents the broader interests of a modern CPG company by focusing on four core pillars: enhancing packaging sustainability; championing smart regulation; creating frictionless supply chains; and building trust in CPG, while also advancing a narrative about the industry’s social and economic impact. GMA recently released the industry’s first-ever economic study, which found the CPG industry supports more than 20 million American jobs and contributes $2 trillion to the country’s GDP.

OSC2, former Rebbl CEO Sheryl O’Loughlin Partner to Promote Women and Diversity on Natural Products Boards

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, October 2019
By Steven Hoffman

According to natural products entrepreneur and investor Brad Barnhorn, of the nine different boards of directors on which he serves, there are a total of 50 board members and only one of them is a woman. He shared this as the only male panelist on the Women on Boards panel at Natural Products Expo East this past September in Baltimore. “Having more women sit on boards of organic and natural companies is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do, writes Max Goldberg in the Organic Insider. Based on a study conducted by financial research firm MSCI, U.S. companies with at least three women on the board experienced earnings growth of 37% over a five-year period, while companies that had no female board members experienced a -8% earnings drop in the same period, Goldberg reported. To address the issue, Northern California-based natural products leadership organization OSC2 has formed JEDI, the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative. Co-founded by OSC2 Executive Director Lara Dickinson and Sheryl O’Loughlin, former CEO of natural beverage maker REBBL, JEDI released a 5-minute survey to collect benchmark data on the current diversity makeup of the natural and organic products industry. The goal, reports the Organic Insider, is to have 500 companies complete the survey by January 2020. JEDI hopes to report findings at Natural Products Expo West 2020, as well as establish and track goals.

U.S. Retail Sales of Herbal Supplements Grew 9.4% in 2018

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, October 2019
By Steven Hoffman

Driven by the growth of CBD, mushrooms and immune-enhancing products, sales of herbal supplements in the U.S. increased 9.4% in 2018, according to a new report published by the American Botanical Council (ABC) in collaboration with market research firm SPINS and Nutrition Business Journal. Consumers spent a total of $8.842 billion on herbal supplements across all market channels in 2018, an increase of approximately $757 million in sales over the previous year, marking the strongest year of U.S. sales growth of herbal supplements since 1998, according to the report, available for download here. In mainstream retail outlets, herbal supplements with horehound (Marrubium vulgare) listed as the primary ingredient, including natural cough drops and lozenges, grossed the highest sales in 2018. Goji berry (Lycium spp.) supplements, many of which are marketed for weight loss, experienced the strongest sales growth in this channel, with a 637% increase from 2017. Booming sales of products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a psychoactive but non-intoxicating constituent of Cannabis sativa, made it the top-selling ingredient with the highest percent sales growth (332.8%) in the 2018 natural channel, says ABC. “CBD and mushroom products dominated the 2018 herbal supplement scene, and sales growth remained strong for Ayurvedic herbs and adaptogens,” said Tyler Smith, Managing Editor of HerbalGram, who has co-authored the report since 2014. “There were also a few surprises in the data — sales of goji berry, for example, which had declined sharply in recent years, experienced a significant rebound in 2018,” he said. “This report strongly supports the continually rising consumer preference for natural, plant-based dietary supplements that can have a positive impact on their health,” said Mark Blumenthal, ABC founder and executive director, and editor-in-chief of HerbalGram. “For over 20 years we have been publishing information on the steady growth of the market for herbal dietary supplements in the United States; the market sales results demonstrate the confidence that consumers appear to have in herbal dietary supplements.”

SAFE Banking Act Clears House

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, October 2019
By Steven Hoffman

While the SAFE Banking Act has yet to pass in the U.S. Senate, last week’s convincing, bi-partisan 321 – 103 vote in favor of the bill by the U.S. House of Representatives has the hemp and cannabis industry feeling bullish that it may soon have access to full banking services.

Due to confusion over the legality of hemp, banks and credit card processors have been reluctant to provide services to “cannabusinesses,” and in some cases have cancelled banking and financial services for legitimate hemp businesses and related service companies, creating significant challenges for entrepreneurs, online retailers and established business alike. (See Let’s Talk Hemp article dated June 26, 2019: Hemp Harassment).

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 (HR 1595), sponsored by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA), and co-sponsored by Representatives Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Warren Davidson (R-OH), would allow marijuana-related businesses in states with some form of legalized marijuana and strict regulatory structures, as well as businesses selling hemp-derived products, to access the banking system. Today, according to Congressman Perlmutter, 47 states, four U.S. territories and the District of Colombia – representing 97.7% of the U.S. population – have legalized some form of recreational or medical cannabis, including CBD oil.

“Thousands of employees, businesses and communities across this country have been forced to deal in piles of cash because of the conflict between state and federal law. After six years of working on this bill, the SAFE Banking Act will go a long way in getting cash off our streets and providing certainty so financial institutions can work with cannabis businesses and employees,” Perlmutter said in a statement.

Under current law, financial institutions providing banking services to legitimate and licensed cannabis businesses under state laws are subject to criminal prosecution under several federal statutes such as “aiding and abetting” a federal crime and money laundering, Perlmutter explained. “Therefore, businesses which legally grow, market or sell cannabis in states that have legalized its sale are generally locked out of the banking system, making it difficult for them to maintain a checking account; access credit; accept credit and debit cards; meet payroll; or pay tax revenue. This has created a significant public safety risk, as these businesses are forced to operate as cash-only businesses in an industry with billions of dollars in transactions. These high-volume cash businesses are being targeted by violent criminals and putting our communities at risk,” the statement said.

“In response, the SAFE Banking Act seeks to harmonize federal and state law by prohibiting federal regulators from taking punitive measures against depository institutions that provide banking services to legitimate cannabis-related businesses and ancillary businesses (e.g. electricians, plumbers, landlords, etc.) that serve them. The bill establishes a safe harbor for any depository institution that chooses to provide banking services to a cannabis-related legitimate business which holds and maintains a license from a state or local government to engage in manufacturing, growing, or producing, as well as any business who handles, sells, transports, displays or distributes cannabis or cannabis products,” the statement added.

According to Perlmutter’s team, a U.S. Senate companion bill (S 1200) was introduced in April 2019 by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the issue in July, and Senate Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-ID) recently announced plans to take up cannabis banking legislation this fall.

“Given the strong bipartisanship of the House vote, coupled with Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo’s recent pledge to hold a markup on this issue, we believe that Congress’ appetite to resolve this important issue has never been greater,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal was quoted as saying in the Hemp Gazette.

While cannabis includes both hemp and marijuana, the 2018 Farm Bill defined hemp as separate from marijuana, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. While the National Credit Union Administration last month stated that federally insured credit unions can provide some financial services to hemp-related businesses, in general, hemp entrepreneurs have faced difficulties in accessing financial products and services such as credit card processing. The SAFE Banking Act has a specific section (Section 11) that reaffirms the legal status of hemp for bank regulators that should remove any remaining barriers, according to Hemp Gazette.

Speaking to Marijuana Moment about the House’s passage of the SAFE Banking Act, Michael Liszewski, Senior Regulatory Affairs Counsel with 4Front Ventures, said, “The fact that (the House vote) got nearly 100% of Dems and pretty close to 50% of Republican demonstrates how mainstream cannabis reform has come. The fact that so many Republicans supported it shows that it can be successful in the Senate.”

“Despite the Farm Bill legalizing hemp, many hemp businesses continue to struggle gaining access to financial services — an issue we know Majority Leader McConnell is working to address,” Perlmutter told Westword. “By clarifying protections for the hemp industry in the SAFE Banking Act, we hope to help these businesses and look forward to working with the Senate as they address this issue by taking up the SAFE Banking Act or as they work to develop and pass similar legislation.”

According to Westword, the bill would allow banks and financial institutions to serve hemp businesses and marijuana businesses in states where they are legal  without risking federal prosecution, “marking a landmark step toward marijuana reform.”

Natural Products Sales Outpace Conventional

Photo: SPINS

Photo: SPINS

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, October 2019
By Steven Hoffman

If you look at the state of the natural and organic products industry, says market research leader SPINS, one of the primary takeaways is this: “The 5% sales growth rate for natural food and beverages over the year ending May 19, 2019, was nearly three times greater than for the overall food and beverage industry—continuing a now-longstanding trend,” reported New Hope Network. “Natural products have been outpacing their conventional counterparts for some time in terms of dollar growth,” said Jessica Hochman, SPINS senior manager of natural insights and innovation research and the lead author of the State of the Natural Industry report in a webinar presenting results from the study. According to SPINS, natural and organic products sales totaled $47.2 billion over the 12-month period and accounted for 10.5% of the overall $448.2 billion food and beverage market. In addition, natural products sales accounted for 29.3% of all food and beverage industry sales growth, says SPINS. In the convenience store channel, while natural products accounted for only 4.6% of total C-store sales, growth of these products over the one-year period was 12.6%, due to rising consumer demand for convenience and natural snacking. The data, presented as part of the Good Food insights series in collaboration with FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator and Naturally Chicago, Esca Bona and SPINS, will be highlighted on October 7 at Naturally Chicago’s Quarterly Keynote Event in Chicago. Presence Marketing / Dynamic Presence is a Sponsoring supporter of Naturally Chicago.

Whole Foods Workers Demand Amazon Stop Working with ICE

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

A group of current and former Whole Foods Market employees working under an anonymous group called Whole Worker published an open letter on August 12 demanding that Amazon cut ties with Palantir, a company that provides data to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), “to show solidarity with our undocumented sisters, brothers, and siblings.” The letter takes issue specifically with Amazon providing its web services technology to Palantir, which sells data to ICE, and the sale of Amazon’s own facial-recognition software, Rekognition, to law enforcement. These services are often used to deport undocumented people and conduct raids like the one that occurred at a food processing plant in Mississippi this August, reported Eater. The letter expresses solidarity with undocumented people in America who “are fleeing from conditions created by destructive U.S. policies, making it the responsibility of the U.S. to welcome them.” The letter also points out that “Palantir, in 2011, was involved in a plan to spy on labor unions and activists.” The Whole Worker group demanded that Amazon “cease all business with Palantir and any other company involved in the continued oppression of marginalized groups.” In reference to Amazon, the letter further states, “We recognize that expecting a company built on the exploitation of marginalized people and the working class to cease its collaboration with ICE’s deportation machine by way of moral condemnations isn’t enough. Workers that control the levers inside Amazon must make this machine stop and turn in another direction.”

Plant-based Meat Market to Reach $2.5 Billion by 2023, But Whole Foods’ Mackey Says Today’s Most Popular Brands Are “Super, Highly Processed Foods”

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

The plant-based meat market is expected to reach $2.5 billion in sales by 2023, and while Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey does believe that plant-based products are a more ethical choice and are better for the environment than conventionally produced meat, he questions the highly processed nature of some of these products. “The [brands] who are capturing the imagination of people – and I’m not going to name these brands because I’m afraid I will be associated with the critique of it – but some of these that are extremely popular now that are taking the world by storm, if you look at the ingredients, they are super, highly processed foods,” Mackey told CNBC Make It. “I don’t think eating highly processed foods is healthy. I think people thrive on eating whole foods,” said Mackey, who has been a vegan for more than 20 years. “As for health, I will not endorse that, and that is about as big of criticism that I will do in public. So the reason why these plant-based meats have taken the world by storm is that they taste very similar to regular meats, whereas if you get a [healthy] black bean burger with flax seeds and sweet potatoes in it, that’s going to taste great to me,” he said. Mackey added: “A lot of people say ... that [plant-based] meat is a transition food, meaning it’s a way for [people] to begin to reeducate [their] palates”; it’s a good first step in weaning people off of meat products,” he said.

Study Warns Climate Change Could Cost U.S. 10.5% of GDP by 2100

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

While there may have been some hope that certain countries could escape the brunt of global warming, a new study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that “virtually all” nations will be negatively impacted by climate change by 2100. “Using a panel data set of 174 countries over the years 1960 to 2014, we find that per-capital real output growth is adversely affected by persistent changes in the temperature above or below its historical norm,” the study states. The study also suggests that, on average, richer colder countries would lose as much income to climate change as poorer, hotter nations. “Our counterfactual analysis suggests that a persistent increase in average global temperature by 0.04°C per year, in the absence of mitigation policies, reduces world real GDP per capita by 7.22% by 2100,” said the study’s authors. The impact on the U.S. — which accounted for much of the research’s focus to compare economic activity in hot or wet areas — would be even greater, a loss of 10.5% of its GDP by 2100, according to the study. In related news, the United Nations (UN) in August issued an intergovernmental panel report on climate change claiming that 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to agricultural activities. In the report, the UN concluded that humans cannot mitigate the effects of climate change without making drastic changes to the ways we grow food and use land. Organizations such as the Rodale Institute are promoting regenerative agriculture as a solution to sequester carbon and reduce the effects of climate change through agriculture.

Organic Trade Association to Host Webinar Series on Key Issues in Organic

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) will host a series offered free to OTA members and for a registration fee of $149 each for non-members. The webinars, scheduled between now and the end of the year, will focus on a number of issues impacting the organic products market, including: Retail Intel: Best Labeling Practices for Organic Non-food Products; Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions; NOSB Meeting Wrap-up; and Legislative Watch: A Recap of 2019 Achievements. In addition, The Organic Center will host a webinar on September 25 that is open to all with no fee. The Organic Center webinar will focus on The Biodiversity Calculator: A Simple Tool for Tracking and Managing Biodiversity for NOP Compliance. For more information visit https://ota.com/programs-events/upcoming-webinars.

Target, Kroger Enjoying Growing Sales of Organic and Natural Foods

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT), based in Minneapolis, MN, on August 19 announced the launch of a new flagship private label brand, Good & Gather. The in-house brand will focus on four categories: organic; kids; seasonal; and premium products. More than 2,000 products including dairy, produce, ready-made pastas, meats, granola bars and sparkling water, are expected to roll out under the Good & Gather brand over the next 18 months. Good & Gather will become Target’s largest brand, replacing existing house brands Archer Farms and Simply Balanced and reducing the number of products under Target’s Market Pantry Brand, reports Sustainable Food News. In related news, Cincinnati, OH-based grocery giant Kroger (NYSE: KR) claims its Simple Truth brand now offers more Fair Trade Certified products than any other U.S. private label brand. The company reported on August 20 in its 2019 Sustainability Report that it sold $17.6 billion worth of natural and organic products in 2018. Kroger’s natural and organic private label brand, Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic, achieved sales of $2.3 billion in 2018, making it the second largest brand sold in its stores, the company reported. Kroger said it purchased 17.2 million pounds of Fair Trade certified ingredients for its private label products, and also said it sold more than $1 billion worth of organic produce in 2018. Kroger operates 2,800 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 35 states. Each store carries on average 4,000 natural and organic items, reports Sustainable Food News.

USDA Draft Hemp Rules Await White House Approval

Photo: Unsplash

Photo: Unsplash

Originally Appeared in Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

While USDA has up to a year to finalize regulations governing hemp cultivation in the U.S., the agency submitted draft federal rules to the White House in mid-September to assure states and farmers they can participate in the 2020 growing season.

The hemp industry is anxiously awaiting federal rules for the cultivation of hemp in the United States, and it may soon get its wish. In mid-September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) completed a draft of proposed rules for growing hemp and submitted the document to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval.

The new USDA regulations are expected to clarify changes that were included in the U.S. Farm Bill, which was passed into law in December 2018. Currently, most state hemp growing programs are operating under older rules included in the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill. The new USDA rules are expected to provide clarity on the legal definition of hemp and reinforce that hemp has been removed from the controlled substances list by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). According to UPI, the new rules also are expected to designate hemp as a commodity crop, simplify rules for interstate hemp commerce, and allow for tribal nations and U.S. territories to participate in hemp growing programs.

Originally scheduled for release on August 1 in advance of the 2020 growing season, William Richmond, USDA’S Director of the Specialty Crops Program in the Agriculture Marketing Service, informed attendees of the American Herbal Products Association’s Hemp and CBD Congress held in Denver in mid-August that the regulations were delayed in part because USDA is struggling with a requirement in the 2018 Farm Bill for a national THC testing protocol. “Our goal is to provide a consistent, easy-to-follow regulatory framework around hemp production,” Richmond said at the AHPA Congress.

Other issues impacting the rapidly emerging hemp industry include the availability of crop insurance and banking services for farmers, approval pesticides for use on hemp crops, and the import of hemp seeds, Geoff Whaling, Chair of the Washington, DC-based National Hemp Association, told UPI. Whaling predicted the USDA rules would be released “in a matter of weeks.”

According to Hemp Industry Daily, the USDA regulations will be temporary for the first year, allowing states and farmers around the country to participate in the 2020 growing season and identify and iron out any small fixes. While the 2018 Farm Bill calls for federal authorities to allow states to set their own rules for hemp production, as long as certain criteria are met, states will need to get USDA approval first, a step, Hemp Industry Daily says, that won’t happen until after the national guidelines are released.

According to UPI, the OMB has scheduled meetings to receive initial public comments regarding the USDA hemp regulations. Once released, members of the hemp industry will be invited to submit feedback before final rules are issued.

The OMB, the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States, is responsible for producing the President’s Budget, but also measures the quality of agency programs, policies and procedures to make sure they comply with the president’s policies. OMB also coordinates inter-agency policy initiatives, according to Wikipedia. Current OMB Director Mick Mulvaney also currently serves as Acting White House Chief of Staff for the Trump administration.

General Mills Working with Farmers to Reduce Pesticide Use

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

Over the past several years, leading food producer General Mills has committed to sourcing major ingredients, including oats, wheat and sugar, from farmers who follow sustainable practices. Now, the maker of Cheerios and hundreds of other products is taking it one step further and encouraging its farmers to reduce their use of pesticides. “Recognizing that synthetic pesticides may harm beneficial insects including pollinators, or drift beyond a farmer’s field, affecting nearby fields and ecosystems, we are actively working across our value chain to limit these unintended and potentially harmful impacts,” General Mills says on its website. “We have strategies in place to reduce synthetic pesticide use, and we work with trusted agronomists and other experts to implement continuous improvement practices throughout our supply chain.” General Mills reports that it is employing four strategies to reduce pesticide use, including: 1) encouraging regenerative agriculture; 2) promoting Integrated Pest Management (IPM); 3) expanding organic acreage; and 4) promoting pollinator health. Earlier this year General Mills announced a goal of increasing regenerative agriculture practices to one million acres by 2030. The practice, which includes the use of cover crops, diverse crop rotations and other strategies, could be a key part of the company’s pesticide reduction plan, reported The Western Producer. “Among its many benefits, regenerative agriculture suppresses pests by promoting natural competition to significantly reduce the need for synthetic pesticides,” General Mills says. According to General Mills, the company is working with 45 farmers, mostly in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, coaching the producers on regenerative practices. The company is measuring a number of outcomes from regenerative agriculture, including pesticide use. According to The Western Producer, General Mills is the second largest producer of organic and natural food in the U.S. In 2018, the company reached 200,000 acres of organic production, with a goal of 250,000 in 2019.

Proposed Tariffs on European Products Would Devastate Specialty Food Sales

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

The Trump administration is currently considering adding tariffs this fall to a large number of items imported into the U.S. from the European Union (EU), including most foreign cheeses. Many top-selling and popular cheeses including Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano and Dutch Gouda could become twice as expensive, reports Modern Farmer. The tariff proposal would increase duties on hundreds of EU products by as much as 100%. Originating from a trade dispute in the aviation industry, the proposed tariffs, supposedly meant to punish the EU, will end up directly impacting specialty food retailers who are already operating on thin margins. According to the Specialty Foods Association, the latest list of proposed tariffs includes 100% levies on a range of pork products, cheeses, pastas, coffee, olives and other goods. “If something happens, we are insulated for a time,” Bob Marcelli, owner of specialty food importer Marcelli Formaggi in Clifton, NJ, told Specialty Food News. “But long term, it would be just devastating. Everybody’s going to pay more; that’s the bottom line, he said.

Trader Convicted in Organic Fraud Scheme Commits Suicide Before Serving 10-Year Prison Sentence

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Photo: Pexels

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

Facing incarceration for his role in masterminding a $142 million organic grain fraud scheme, organic farmer and trader Randy Constant was found dead by suicide on August 19 at his home in Chillicothe, MO. Constant was sentenced on August 16 by a federal court judge to 10 years in prison for knowingly marketing and selling non-organic corn and soybeans as organic. Federal prosecutors called the scheme “one of the largest, if not the largest, organic fraud schemes in the history of the United States.” Police officers found Constant dead from carbon monoxide poisoning weeks before he was to report to federal prison. Prosecutors alleged that Constant falsely marketed non-organic grains as certified organic on a massive scale, reported Time Magazine. Sales through his Iowa grain brokerage equaled up to 7% of the organic corn grown in the U.S. in 2016 and 8% of organic soybeans. From 2010 to 2017, Constant was reported to have sold over 11.5 million bushels of grain, primarily used as feed for chickens and cattle, which would then be unwittingly marketed as organic meat products by the respective producers. Constant’s death came as authorities publicized his prison term, which they hoped would deter other farmers from defrauding the National Organic Program, reported Time Magazine. Judge C.J. Williams said during the sentencing hearing that Constant’s fraud did “extreme and incalculable damage” to consumers and undermined public confidence in the nation’s organic food industry.

Presence Marketing’s Tracy Miedema Featured at AHPA Hemp-CBD Congress

Photo: AHPA

Photo: AHPA

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

Comparing CBD to other herb-derived products like echinacea, American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Chief Executive Michael McGuffin said, “Hemp is just another herb that should be regulated the same as any other dietary supplement.” Speaking at the sold-out AHPA Hemp-CBD Congress held in Denver on August 15-16, McGuffin said CBD producers should be expected to comply with “all federal regulations” including using registered food and processing facilities. Tracy Miedema, VP of Innovation and Brand Development for Presence Marketing / Dynamic Presence, also spoke at the conference, which was sponsored in part by Presence Marketing. Miedema, a “true believer” who was married in the 1990s in a hemp wedding dress, said CBD is a huge phenomenon worldwide, expected to generate between $15 billion and $20 billion in sales in the next few years. Miedema, who is a board member of the Lexington, KY-based U.S. Hemp Roundtable, was quoted in UPI News saying, “When the 2018 Farm Bill passed, taking CBD off the Schedule 1 [drug list], that unlocked the potential in funding.” Commenting on the uncertain regulatory environment, Miedema added, “This is a political problem, not a legal problem. Neither supply nor demand can be stopped at this point.” Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a champion of hemp, opened the Hemp-CBD Congress, declaring hemp “a crop of the past and yes, a crop of the future.”

Natural Products Association (NPA) Files for Bankruptcy

Photo: Natural Products Association (NPA)

Photo: Natural Products Association (NPA)

Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman

The Natural Products Association, (NPA) the oldest trade group in the natural products industry, filed for bankruptcy protection on August 19, 2019, which it attributed to six straight years of losses and a costly arbitration with the association’s former CFO. According to Reuters, NPA CEO Daniel Fabricant said in a filing with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington, DE, that the Chapter 11 case will provide a “breathing spell” for the Washington, D.C.-based trade group to focus on advocacy and membership. Founded in 1936 and formerly known as the National Nutritional Foods Association, NPA said it has more than 1,000 members comprising over 10,000 retail, manufacturing, wholesale and distribution locations for natural foods, dietary supplements and natural health and beauty products. According to Reuters, NPA’s former CFO Brent Weickert holds the largest unsecured claim in the bankruptcy petition – a disputed $780,179 arbitration settlement awarded as a result of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Weickert in 2015 against NPA.

Athletic Appeal – Former Professional Athletes Passionate About the Hemp/CBD Business

From Left: Two-Time Funny Car World Champion turned hemp farmer Matt Hagan; NFL Veteran and CBD advocate Kyle Turley; and former NHL player turned hemp educator and CBD entrepreneur Riley Cote.  Photos: Matt Hagan: Matt Hagan/Twitter; Kyle Turley: NeuroXPF.com; Riley Cote: Athletes for Care.

From Left: Two-Time Funny Car World Champion turned hemp farmer Matt Hagan; NFL Veteran and CBD advocate Kyle Turley; and former NHL player turned hemp educator and CBD entrepreneur Riley Cote. Photos: Matt Hagan: Matt Hagan/Twitter; Kyle Turley: NeuroXPF.com; Riley Cote: Athletes for Care.

Originally Appeared in Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, August 2019
By Steven Hoffman

Hear two-time Funny Car World Champion turned hemp farmer Matt Hagan, NFL veteran and CBD advocate Kyle Turley, and former NHL player Riley Cote, CBD entrepreneur and co-founder of Athletes for Care, speak at the 2nd Annual Southern Hemp Expo, September 6-7, 2019, at the Williamson County AG Expo Park in Franklin, TN.

Professional athletes know how to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.’ However, after years in the sports world, athletes are increasingly turning to full spectrum hemp extract and CBD to help provide relief for stress and for injuries accumulated over a career or a lifetime of impact athletics.

Three such former professional athletes were so impressed with results garnered from full spectrum hemp extract that they got into the business – one, two-time Funny Car World Champion Matt Hagan, as a hemp farmer; another, Kyle Turley, is a former NFL player who says CBD saved is life; and the third, former NHL player Riley Cote, is a hemp advocate and educator and also a marketer of CBD products to athletes, weekend warriors and the general public. Matt, Kyle and Riley will be featured speakers at the upcoming Southern Hemp Expo September 6-7, 2019, at the Williamson County AG Expo Park in Franklin, TN.

Matt Hagan – Funny CarWorld Champion Turned Organic Hemp Farmer
Recognized as a top competitor in the world of Funny Car drag racing, Matt Hagan is also a beef cattle farmer. When the 2018 Farm Bill passed, he immediately started planning to plant 140,000 plants on 90 acres, making his TruHarvest Farms one of the largest hemp farms in Virginia. “Every day I feel better about it,” Hagan told his local TV station, WFXR, at the beginning of the planting season. “The first couple of days starting this up I was ready to puke, ‘cause it’s just the unknown, the fear of the unknown.” However, Hagan added, “We’ve picked up over 20 people to work this farm for this year and that alone is driving revenue back into our country and into our state.” Hagan plans to sell his organically produced hemp plants to create CBD and strives to break the stigma around hemp. In the future, he hopes to open his farm to educate people on the uses of hemp and its differences from marijuana.

Riley Cote – From NHL Enforcer to CBD Educator and Entrepreneur
Riley Cote is a former professional left winger in the National Hockey League (NHL). He spent four seasons (2006-2010) with the Philadelphia Flyers where he was renowned for his role as an enforcer. Upon retiring from the NHL, Cote founded the Hemp Heals Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting hemp as a viable renewable resource that can help increase the quality lives of all people. Cote also sits on the Pennsylvania Hemp Industries Council (PAHIC) board.  As a co-founder of Athletes For Care and one of its NHL League Ambassadors, Cote continues to pursue his passion to help athletes discover safe, non-toxic ways to find relief, manage pain and achieve a better understanding of self-healing. Riley recently launched BodyChek Wellness, a line of full spectrum hemp extract-based products with a mission to optimize everyday performance and challenge individuals to rethink the healing process. The BodyChek Wellness line reinforces Cote’s passion to help individuals discover safe nontoxic methods for pain management and self-healing.

Kyle Turley – After 100+ Concussions in the NFL, CBD Saved His Life
Diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) due to the 100-plus concussions he received during the 10 years he played as an NFL offensive lineman, Kyle Turley struggled with pharmaceutical addiction, violent thoughts, and suicidal tendencies — until he started taking medical marijuana. “It saved my life,” he says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today, I would not have my family, my kids, my house, everything I have right now, if not for cannabis.” To help save other lives, Turley founded the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition to use his story and those of other players to advance the idea of marijuana as a valid medicine for neurological conditions and other athletic injuries. “This plant has to be set free,” he says. “We have people committing suicide in football and other sports. How far do we have to go?” Knowing the value of the plant and the hurdles that the government and big pharma has placed on marijuana, Kyle has created Neuro XPF, a lab tested, federal guideline compliant, THC-Free, CBD (Hemp derived) cannabis supplement focused on bioavailability. CBD (cannabidiol) has shown in studies to have neuro-protective and antioxidative properties that could address a myriad of maladies facing our military and NFL veterans while supporting the general health and wellbeing of all aged athletes, says Turley.