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HIGH HOPES FOR HEMP IN PA

Hemp could rocket to become one of Pennsylvania’s major cash crops under new regulations published last week by the state Department of Agriculture. Please tell us what "could" means?

At the same time, those new regulations could inadvertently crush small farmers who still are sitting on their 2019 hemp harvest. Pioneering hemp farmers, who grew the crop under the state’s experimental pilot program, may find that their cannabis plants — now stored in barns and warehouses — may be too laden with the intoxicating substance THC to be approved for sale, legal experts said. Several thousands of acres of hemp were planted in Pennsylvania last year. Under the state’s new standards and requirements, testing will be increased significantly for marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin. The act, which is effective immediately, “represents a fundamental change in how the hemp industry is regulated in Pennsylvania,” said Bill Roark, an attorney who is cochair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Medical Marijuana and Hemp Law Committee.

DON'T BELIEVE THIS HEMP-HOTSPOT UNLESS YOU'RE A FLYING DEER: Farmers are looking at hemp as a lucrative crop. Where an acre of corn might generate $300 to $500 in profit, and tobacco $1,000 to $3,000, they expect some hemp varieties — those grown for CBD extraction — to fetch $10,000 or more.

Not true unless the processor has the equipment and knowledge to produce zero THC CBD HEMP on a consistent quality basis within the requirements demanded by the end-user.

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Montana Farmers Union hosted a meeting in Great Falls on today for producers and processors of hemp products to come together.

Along with several presentations the event allowed different businesses to discuss the constantly expanding industry of hemp. Cary Kolstad, a fifth-generation farmer, started with Montana’s pilot program in 2016 to start growing industrial hemp. But he hopes the industry continues to grow in Montana. “What I’d like to see is something happening with the fiber. I’d like to see Montana bring in some processing plants and start utilizing that because that’s where the most..most of the uses from hemp actually come from the stalk and no one’s really using it at the moment,” said Kolstad.

Morgan Elliott, IND Hemp VP of Operations shared with me some of what they will be doing at IND which is in Fort Benton. Elliot tells MTN, “We produce wholesale products, wholesale oil and wholesale protein. So, our finished product is going into salad dressings or topical treatments as well as protein bars or protein shakes." According to Elliot, hemp products have typically been associated with marijuana and that just isn’t the case anymore. She says it’s important to make sure people are aware of just how much can be done with hemp.

"Advocacy is a big part of our job. So, getting the information out there that this commodity plant is available and that you can have it in your household.”

Montana Farmers Union plans to host more of these events in the future to try and increase awareness and have farmers share their knowledge of the hemp industry in Montana. Cary Kolstad also added, “There’s a lot to learn. I’m still learning even after growing it for 3 years.”

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Hemp conference set for February in North Little Rock

The Arkansas Farmer’s Industrial Hemp Conference, a two-day meeting designed to give farmers the pros and cons of adding industrial hemp to their crop rotation will be held Feb. 14 and 15 at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown North Little Rock. Speakers will include Arkansas farmers who grew industrial hemp this last season, soil scientists, seedsmen, processors, marketers, and regulators. The Arkansas farmers will pass on lessons learned regarding varieties, controlling THC levels, pests and the marketing and sale of their crops. The conference is presented by Green Remedies which operates Indigenous Seeds, Hawgs Hemp Farm, and Hawgs Hemp Refinery. Green Remedies co-founder Brad Fausett leads the industrial hemp program at the Northwestern Oklahoma State University and will be speaking about the most common mistakes made by new hemp farmers and best practices for growing hemp.

Shawn Peebles, owner of Peebles Farm, a 1,200-acre organic sweet potato operation in Woodruff County grew five acres of industrial hemp this season and will speak at the conference. “First, hemp is way over-hyped,” Peebles said.” You are not going to get rich quick, however, it can be a very profitable addition to your crop rotation. You have to pay attention in advance as to where you are going to sell it. It is not like selling a commodity crop.”

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