Hemp could be a growth industry

It was good to see U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pay a visit to New Hampshire last week, but he is missing a clear opportunity to help farm country America. I say this because when I e-mailed Vilsack to ask if he was planning to homepublicly support the Industrial Hemp Farming Act being reviewed in Congress, his office said no and referred me to a nine-year-old study:

“Uncertainty about long-run demand for hemp products and the potential for oversupply discounts the prospects for hemp as an economically viable alternative crop for American farmers.”

As a hemp foods importer, I see Canadian suppliers expanding their facilities in response to demand – most of which comes from the United States. Market studies show hemp foods are where bagels were in the early 1990s. This year six states have passed hemp bills (17 in all), but not a single seed will be planted until hemp is rescheduled as a non-drug variety of cannabis sativa.

The Obama administration is telling us to pick ourselves up and embrace our pioneering spirit, and yet there are legions of self-reliant, enterprising farmers and rural entrepreneurs who must wait for federal action on hemp.

Mr. Vilsack, what the USDA can do is give our farmers back the right to grow hemp, and then ask the president to announce to the world that hemp is not marijuana. Do that, and we’ll show you what a growth industry looks like.


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