Oregon has discovered infringement of water laws by 33% of hemp farmers in 2020 after an audit that analyzed operations in the state’s southwestern region.
According to the Capital press, the area’s Water Resources Agency analyzed 187 out of 1000 hemp farms within Oregon’s territory, which represents half of the state’s operations.
However, over 80% of the hemp farms were not audited. The high amount of violations from the analyzed lots indicates that problems could be bigger than the reported ones.
Capital press asserted that a plethora of violations were awarded to hemp growers who used well water to irrigate their crops, despite not having water rights that is domestically permitted and commercially prohibited.
About forty percent of the visited hemp farmers said that their water was derived from municipal sources. However, investigating that would be time-consuming.
The department attributed the large chunk of problems to the lack of outreach and education, citing that most growers weren’t informed about the restrictions.
One of the audit’s objectives was to straighten out kinks and assist in regulating hemp farms’ irrigation across the state.
Oregon plans to perform more reviews this year to ascertain whether compliance was approved or not. However, it hasn’t been able to keep that promise
To help fix this, Oregon’s Agriculture Department is asking legislators to fund four extra hemp enforcement seats.
Hemp cultivation has incredibly increased in Southwest Oregon since its federal authorization in 2018. Currently, the Josephine and Jackson Counties cultivate more industrial hemp than any other region within the state. This has culminated in issues regarding illegal water utility in rural areas.
In Oregon, the law states that commercial agriculture projects should truck in water from legal sources.
The audit started by examining the Rogue Basin before reviewing the Williams watershed since there were multiple complaints from that area in the past few years.