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Jennifer Spanos

Cannabis plants.

Industrial hemp regulations published: Here’s what you need to know

By | Agriculture, ERP, Hemp | No Comments

Cannabis plants.Though the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp, stakeholders have been operating under some degree of uncertainty due to a lack of USDA regulations. However, on October 29, 2019, the USDA released its interim final rule for domestic hemp production regulations, clarifying certain aspects of hemp production. Production of hemp is legal in 46 states, with Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and South Dakota being the exceptions.

Farmers who grow hemp must be licensed under state or tribal hemp growing programs, or by the USDA. There can be significant differences among states concerning how hemp is grown and sold. States and tribes can have primary regulatory authority over hemp production, with USDA approval.

Granting of licenses for production of hemp will begin November 30, and growers will be required to report their hemp acreage to the Farm Services Agency, so the agency can learn how much hemp is grown, and in what parts of the country.

Testing and proof of acceptable THC levels

The new USDA interim rule clarifies some questions about THC limits (which must remain under 0.3%) and testing of crops. Testing of hemp flower material must be done within 15 days of anticipated crop harvest, though there is still some uncertainty about how testing labs will deal with backlogs. Also uncertain is how the USDA will handle potential increases in THC levels after testing is completed, but before crops are harvested.

DEA-registered labs must be used for crop testing. The USDA’s sampling and testing procedure guidelines were issued in separate documents from the interim rule so that any necessary changes to those specific guidelines can be made more quickly.

Requirements for “hot crops” and criminal background checks

Noncompliant plants or “hot crops” (those with THC levels above 0.3%) must still be disposed of under procedures of the Controlled Substances Act, so hemp farmers will not be able to use them for composting under the interim rule.

As for farmworkers, farmers will be required to complete criminal history reports for “key participants” who have direct financial interest in the business, such as owners and partners. Shift managers, field workers, and the like will not have to submit criminal history reports, and this should ease the problem of hiring farm laborers in a tight labor market.

Interstate shipment of hemp plants

The 2018 farm bill and subsequent USDA memos affirmed states’ and tribes’ rights to regulate the production of hemp within their borders, but states and tribes may not restrict the transportation of hemp within their borders. This is good news for hemp farmers because it grants them easier access to nationwide markets without having to worry about transporting crops through states that still prohibit hemp production.

Comment period ends December 30

The 60-day public comment period for this interim USDA rule ends on December 30, 2019. Members of the public who want to comment on the rule can do so through the portal at regulations.gov. Comments can also be sent by mail or fax to the address and fax number indicated on the Federal Register page for the interim rule.

In October 2021, the interim rule will expire and will be replaced by a final rule. This two-year period will allow enough time for the 2020 growing season to take place so that farmers and public officials can gauge which parts of the rule work well, and which parts may need adjustment.

Agriculture ERP can streamline compliance for hemp production

Agriculture is heavily regulated, and hemp producers will have to follow additional regulations. An outstanding ERP foundation like Sage X3, with added features for agriculture built by NexTec, will be essential for hemp producers to manage their crops and demonstrate traceability. Additionally, NexTec and Sage Business Cloud enable farmers to create flexible quality control programs that incorporate crop testing and workflows.

NexTec and Sage X3 make ideal partners for hemp production. NexTec’s extensive experience in both consulting and the industry, combined with the most experienced Sage X3 team in the industry ensure that customers get the best possible results from their technology investment. Find out how to build your ERP project team.

Man standing outside looking at his phone with farm icons displaying.

The right ERP addresses these 5 agriculture industry challenges

By | Agriculture, ERP | No Comments
Person outside looking at their phone with farm icons.

Agribusinesses need to address complex operational challenges to remain competitive.

Agriculture businesses are facing increased pressures to keep prices down, combat ongoing geopolitical tariff battles, satisfy evolving customer demands and stay in compliance with increasing regulatory mandates.

To handle these complex challenges, agribusinesses need the right business software solutions. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms that are designed for the agriculture industry can solve many of these challenges. The right ERP addresses these 5 agriculture industry challenges.

1. Managing production efficiently

Coordinating the supply chain, seasons and scheduling of employees and equipment is essential for agricultural efficiency, especially if multiple farms are in play.

The right ERP system gives you functional efficiency at each phase of planning and production, and visibility to:

  • Crops planted
  • Cost capture information
  • Business partners
  • Planting and sowing data
  • Production forecasts and actuals
  • Tasks and employee data

When production needs to be scheduled, NexTec’s Sage X3 agriculture solution provides you with scheduling tools that let you organize resources — machines and people, quantities and segments.

2. Addressing pricing pressures

Commodity prices have been a challenge for many agribusinesses in the past 12 months. Changing trade policies, tariffs and geopolitical gamesmanship have dealt a blow to agricultural business, creating extraordinary uncertain conditions. That’s why businesses are turning to new technologies such as the Internet of Things, automation and blockchain to collect and use more data. Data can be an invaluable asset, not only in improving operations and improving price margins, but also as a commodity that can be leveraged to create new revenue opportunities. With specific functionality for agriculture built on the trusted Sage X3 platform, NexTec gives your business the right tools to collect and use data to relieve pricing pressure.

3. Meeting regulatory demands

With more regulations in play at the federal, state and local levels, it’s more important than ever that agricultural companies have ERP solutions that can track data and keep records for quality and safety. Regulations require companies to have highly detailed systems to track data, trace products and ingredients and provide documentation on demand. With NexTec as your agriculture ERP partner, you have the tools available to manage quality and compliance.

Person holding freshly picked cucumbers.

The right agriculture ERP can fuel efficiency and transparency.

4. Managing supply procurement

Resource management is an important topic. Input prices on water, fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides are increasing and resources, such as water and land are becoming scarcer. Managing resources – from supply chain management to planning to analysis – requires an ERP that can provide the necessary tools.

5. Increasing legalization of hemp

As cannabis products, including hemp, become legal in more and more states, agribusinesses have to assess the viability of entering the business. The demand for cannabis and hemp continues to skyrocket, but is rife with various regulatory and crop-specific needs. Your ERP needs to be able to track the components, yields and regulatory requirements inherent to the cannabis and hemp industry.

NexTec’s agricultural ERP centralizes data and processes in one platform, giving your teams the transparency and versatility that make decision-making better. Manage all aspects of your growing operations, track inventory and equipment, forecast future yields and scale quickly with Sage X3 and NexTec.

NexTec helps companies select, implement and optimize top business software solutions like Sage X3. To learn more, give NexTec and Sage X3 a try.

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Farmer sitting in a green house typing on a laptop.

Enterprise resource planning and sustainability in agriculture

By | Agriculture, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Farmer in a large greenhouse typing on a laptop computer.

Agricultural businesses need the right ERP to fully commit to sustainability efforts.

While sustainability is an important issue in many industries, it’s critically important in agriculture. Technology, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, can play an important role in sustainability for agribusinesses.

When it comes to enterprise resource planning and sustainability in agriculture, Sage X3 has the functionality and industry-specific features that help companies thrive.

Defining sustainable agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is a focus on practices that provide for society’s current food needs without jeopardizing future generations’ ability to meet their needs. Sustainability in agribusiness means maintaining a healthy environment while continuing to be profitable.

The challenge is that for many big agribusinesses, sustainability has not always been a top priority. A recent Medium article notes that at big farms “ideas around environmental sustainability are not only a low priority, they’re simply not discussed.” At smaller farms, while there is more discussion of sustainability, it’s sometimes just used for marketing purposes.

“Many of the farmers who care the most about sustainability can’t afford to put it into practice,” the article notes. “Raising plants and animals in a way that benefits (or at least doesn’t harm) the earth, the farmworkers, the animals, and the consumers is incredibly expensive. And Americans don’t like to pay a lot for food.”

Two farmers walking in their field.

Retailers and consumers alike are demanding more commitment to sustainability.

Why technology will make a difference

The reality is that the importance of sustainability is growing, driven by both corporations and customers.

On the corporate side, retailers are looking to their suppliers to demonstrate a commitment to and actions that drive sustainability across the board. Walmart, for example, has implemented a Sustainability Index program. The index collects and analyzes data on each product’s lifecycle, working with suppliers to improve sustainability efforts. Walmart provides suppliers with their scores, how they rank in comparison with other suppliers in the same field, and insights on how to improve sustainability.

At a more granular level, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil requires companies to comply with environmental and social criteria to be certified as a sustainable product.

Consumers are driving some of the corporate work, while the use of social media allows for consumer voices to be amplified and connected on sustainability issues.

For agribusinesses, having an ERP that tracks and demonstrates sustainability is critical. In many cases, these issues relate to inefficiencies in supply chain management. Here are some of the ways the right ERP solution can help:

  • Resource Efficiency. Supply chain optimization can reduce transportation mileage at each stage, reducing emissions and environmental impact.
  • Shipment Management. When suppliers and partners are not communicating well or have inadequate, incorrect or different information, shipments, ingredients, and products suffer.
  • Inventory Management. Agile supply chain management means a responsive, flexible and quick approach to day-to-day operations. This approach may have the greatest impact on inventory management, with real-time data on existing stock and expiration dates to ensure that the right ingredients and products are used in the right order.
  • Wastage Management. When you have better systems for predicting usage and tracking your supply chain, you can reduce the amount of waste, a powerful measure that can be used internally and externally.

Sage X3 provides agribusinesses with integrated functions designed to serve the industry. NexTec provides guidance on the selection, implementation, and optimization of agriculture ERP solutions.

Learn more about how Sage and NexTec can help your agribusiness improve its commitment to sustainability. Take a free tour of Sage X3 to learn more.