The UK’s largest hemp farm has been forced to destroy its crop after the country’s Home Office declined its application to renew its licence.

Hempen – the firm behind the 40ac Oxfordshire farm in central England – said it expected the ruling would cost it around £200,000 (€224,000) in sales.

The company was growing hemp and harvesting the flowers for the purpose of producing Cannabidiol products, such as CBD oil. However, clarification from the Home Office in November meant that only the stems and seeds could be harvested.

Last week, the firm’s licence was denied for renewal, meaning it can no longer harvest the crop in any form. The farm started work to destroy its crop on Monday, July 22.

A spokesman for Hempen said: “This decision has a far-reaching impact on our co-operative and all its operations, on us as a community and on all of our customers and volunteers who help to keep our co-operative alive.

Hempen is now seeking legal advice on how to respond to the licence denial. We hope to appeal the decision as well as continue to work on a wider campaign to support British farmers to grow industrial hemp and save UK CBD production.

“The news is a shock to us all, but even before the dust has settled, all of us at Hempen have doubled down on our efforts to protect our home and our mission.

“Our co-operative exists thanks to the generous support of all our customers and volunteers. In these difficult times, this has never been more the case.”

80,000 jobs

In Ireland, a Teagasc specialist believes that there is the potential for 80,000 jobs here if suitable farm enterprises opted to diversify into hemp production.

Speaking on FarmLand, recently, Barry Caslin, Teagasc specialist in energy and rural development, urged the Government to embrace the crop’s potential as global demand for its components “escalates at a rapid rate”.

“[There are] about 50,000 different products that can be produced from hemp to generate income for farmers in rural areas,” argued Caslin.