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Farmers fall for hemp

Monday, October 16, 2017

industrial hemp beating droughts - blue moon hempFor decades, industrial hemp was a pariah crop. That’s changing, as some states consider allowing it, while in others, farmers are already cultivating it.

In North Carolina, farmers who once planted tobacco are turning to the classic crop. According to The Courier-Tribune of Asheboro, N.C.:

The plants and leaves look much like marijuana and, indeed, they are related to cannabis sativa. Hemp has made a comeback and that’s being felt in Randolph County and North Carolina’s Tobacco Belt. Asheboro’s own Bob Crumley is a driving force in that comeback.

He traces his interest in hemp to three friends who died of cancer — Bill Boyd, “Poochie” Cox and Vickie Burgess. Crumley began looking for ways to prevent and treat cancer.

That’s when he came across the benefits of hemp.

“It was outlawed in 1937,” he said of the period when marijuana and its cousin hemp were banned. “It bothered me that industrialists put folks out of business. I decided to bring hemp farming back to North Carolina.”

Others in other states are pursuing similar goals. In Wisconsin, a bill before the state senate would legalize hemp cultivation, and the dairy state lags behind 30 others.

A California company, Kings Royal Biotech, aims to build a $30 million processing facility in western Kentucky, WKMS reports:

 “It’s a triple crop for us,” said Kings Royal managing member, Keith Taylor. His family has roots in west Kentucky, but that isn’t the only reason the company plans to process here said Taylor.  

He said the climate, land availability and rich hemp history makes the Commonwealth ideal for their planned 50 thousand square foot facility; that will harvest hemp flowers for pharmaceutical oils, use fiber for clothing and seeds for consumption.

And Business Insider reports that a Nebraska company last week signed the first U.S. contract to supply hemp fiber to a sustainable clothing company.

Business Insider reports:

“This fiber supply contract marks a historic milestone in the U.S. Hemp Industry, and particularly for American-made hemp textiles, since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill,” Bastcore CEO John Lupien said in an announcement obtained by Business Insider.

The hemp is sourced from farms in Colorado, Kentucky, and Minnesota, and Bastcore plans to work with farmers in North Carolina and New York also as those states develop the legal framework for growing hemp.

The hemp will be used by Recreator, a Los Angeles-based apparel company that focuses on “bringing regenerative agricultural practices to the American fashion industry,” the company said. Recreator will use Bastcore’s hemp to make t-shirts and other garments in LA.