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Hemp Industry Experts Address Opportunities For Farming And Processing

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Hemp industry leaders have recently seen an upsurge of inquiry into the possibilities for hemp farming and processing in Colorado and Washington State since the November 2012 election in which voters passed Initiative 502 and Amendment 64. The passing of the two initiatives legalized marijuana for recreational use on the state level in each of those states. Both of these measures had components that addressed the issue of industrial hemp farming. Initiative 502 changed the definition of marijuana in Washington state to exclude Cannabis "with a THC concentration less than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis," which many other states have used as the definition of industrial hemp. Colorado voters went a step further. Amendment 64 not only defined industrial hemp but it also included a provision stating, "Not later than July 1, 2014, the General Assembly shall enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp."

Hemp legislation is expected to be introduced in Colorado soon to help create regulations for hemp farming as required in Amendment 64. "I am excited about the potential opportunity for Colorado farmers," says Eric Steenstra , HIA Executive Director, "but it is important for the public to understand that the market can't develop properly until federal law is changed allowing domestic sources of pedigreed seed, crop insurance, and support and research from Colorado agriculture universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) into hemp varieties which will grow well in Colorado latitude, altitude, and soil."

Canada reestablished their hemp industry in 1998 and it has grown over the past 15 years from just over 5,000 acres to over 50,000 acres licensed for hemp cultivation in 2012. According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA) there are about 200 hemp farmers across the country. The CHTA forecasts that hemp production will nearly double by 2015 to 100,000 acres.

A realistic picture of what farmers and processors of industrial hemp in Colorado can expect economically initially depends on the actions of the federal government. As the industry develops farmers working with seed breeders and manufacturers can expect reasonable returns on their investments, but are cautioned to plant crops which are contracted to processors to meet their needs rather than growing hemp on speculation.

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) is a membership-based nonprofit trade group, which represents the interests of the hemp industry and encourages the research and development of new products made from industrial hemp, the low-THC oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis. The organization formed in 1994 and is the only U.S. nonprofit trade group representing actual hemp businesses.

America has a long history with industrial hemp farming which dates back to colonial times. It was once an important and profitable crop for American farmers and processors. America is currently the largest importer of hemp products primarily from Canada, Europe, and China. U.S. sales in 2012 are estimated by HIA at $156 million for hemp foods and body care.

Industrial hemp has not been grown on a commercial scale on U.S. soil since 1957 and unfortunately all the genetics from original American varieties, many of which were developed by USDA plant breeder Lyster Dewey , have been lost.

The HIA is hosting a Symposium on Industrial Hemp Farming at The Ranch in Loveland, CO on March 21st from 6-9:30 p.m. Speakers will discuss how hemp is grown and processed, as well as markets for hemp and realistic expectations for farmers who are interested in growing the crop. The legal and political status of hemp at the state and federal level will also be discussed. Featured speakers will include Shaun Crew , President of Hemp Oil Canada which is Canada's largest hemp processor, Anndrea Hermann , Agrologist and hemp farming expert, Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp a national non profit lobbying group, Summer Star , Marketing Director of Envirotextiles a Colorado based hemp textile importer. Sen. Gail Schwartz and Sen. Kevin Lundberg have also been invited.


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Source: prnewswire.com
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Website: Hemp Industry Experts Address Opportunities for Farming and Processing of Industrial Hemp in... -- WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
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