As Oregon’s Department of Agriculture anticipates sowing more seeds for it’s industrial hemp program during 2016, more than a handful of North Dakota farmers have expressed an interest in becoming part of their states experimental program – and testing the viability of industrial hemp in the Roughrider state.
While Oregon issued 11 hemp licenses in 2015 before clipping the program last August, only 9 of the licensed hemp farmers actually planted the fast-growing crop. And of those nine, only three actually harvested their products. Unfortunately, two of the three crops were banned because their hemp exceeded the states 0.3 THC limits. According to Lindsay Eng, the program’s manager within the AG Dept., that hemp will need to be destroyed. Originally, Oregon’s industrial hemp program was allowed to flourish when the cultivation of hemp was included in the states November 2014 initiative that legalized recreational marijuana consumption. Now, after nearly 24 months, Oregon’s Department of agriculture is anticipated to resume issuing cultivation licenses for industrial hemp by the end of February.
Thanks to a provision in the 2014 federal farm bill, which allows for universities and state AG departments to perform research on hemp in states where it’s cultivation is permitted, 17 farmers from North Dakota signed up to become part of the hemp cultivation program this year. Of the 17 applicants, only 11 were deemed eligible by personnel within the state agricultural department. Encouraged by the newest opportunity afforded them, Brandon Koenig is one framer that’s ready to plant some hemp seeds and see what happens. Historically a more traditional farmer, Brandon has long cultivated crops like wheat and barley and is accustomed to raising cattle on his farm in central North Dakota. Looking to provide a little crop diversification for his farm, Mr. Koenig is anxious to sow the seeds of prosperity, “I’ve heard of people in Canada who have grown it with good luck, with large cash flows,” he noted. “That sparked my interest.” Indeed.
As it currently stands, only 1% of Americans still participate in agribusiness. In 1937, before political opposition from rival industries crushed America’s hemp industry, it hovered around 30%. Hemp is considerably more valuable now than it was when Henry J. Anslinger played his cruel joke on the American public. If not for Mr. Anslinger, we’d be waving American flags made from hemp and thanking Thomas Jefferson for his early insights.