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

Hempen – the firm behind the 40ac Oxfordshire farm – said it expected the ruling would cost it around £200,000 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 license 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.”

Growing hemp

Licences to grow hemp typically cost around £580, with licence renewals costing £326.

Those who apply must provide details of the growing location, seed type, THC content and only grow European Union approved seed.

The Home Office may impose restrictions on where the crop can be planted. It also suggests screening crops or locating them sensitively, for example, hemp should not be grown in the vicinity of schools or in areas of public access.

The Home Office also advises growers inform the local police of their plans.

Licences last for a growing season, and must be renewed before the next season’s crop is sown.