Hemp project includes marketing

North Dakota farmers planted more than 3,000 acres of industrial hemp in 2017 as part of pilot project in the state.

The purpose of the project is research, to see if hemp is a viable crop, but those farmers are also allowed to sell the hempseed.

That’s because marketing is part of the research mandate, said Ken Anderson, a businessperson and hemp entrepreneur in Prescott, Wisconsin.

“I helped Minnesota set up their pilot last year and one of things we said was, ‘look, if you’re just doing research, keep it in the university,’ ” he said, adding if farmers are part of the pilot project, they have to sell the crop.

“Otherwise … you’re going to have a few hundred acres in the ground and (a farmer is) going to have to sit on it or destroy it? No one wants to do that.”

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So, hempseed produced in North Dakota, Minnesota and other states can be sold, although in North Dakota’s case, not across state borders.

“North Dakota will not allow me to take live grain over the border into Minnesota, where we could process it,” Anderson said.

Strangely, there isn’t a similar rule about shipping the hemp into Canada so a number of producers and dealers are selling North Dakota grown hempseed to processors in Manitoba.

The idea that hempseed can cross an international border but not a state line is complete madness, Anderson said.

“North Dakota will allow me to ship it into Canada, without any permits or anything.”

Given the marketing uncertainty, a great deal of misinformation has spread through North Dakota’s nascent hemp industry.

Growers hear rumours about a certain price, per pound of hemp, and assume their crop is worth that amount, Anderson said.

“It’s not (worth it) if you don’t have a buyer. And if those buyers have all of their acreage contracted that they need, they’re not really buyers,” he warned.

“If you don’t have a contract,don’t put acreage in the ground because the market is going to be flooded.”

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