Hemp growers apply for national checkoff

The Farm Products Council of Canada is reviewing producers’ application for a promotion and research agency

Canadian hemp growers have asked for a national promotion and research agency.

A producer committee has applied to the Farm Products Council of Canada to establish an agency funded by levies. The council is accepting comments online until Nov. 24.

Don Dewar, a Dauphin, Man., grower, said the application has been in the works since the spring of 2017. The FPCC has had the application since October 2017 and is now reviewing it.

“Our view has always been that a hemp PRA will allow Canadian hemp growers to become a better partner with industry, researchers, provincial and national governments in the identification and delivery of strategic research and promotional programs that will strengthen and grow the Canadian hemp industry,” Dewar said.

The PRA would collect a mandatory checkoff of 0.5 percent of the value of the sale of seed and fibre sold to commercial buyers.

The idea is to allow farmers to direct some of the research that is currently being done by companies.

Dewar said prices are low right now, thanks largely to oversupply. A number of contracts with South Korean buyers fell through.

“The other part I guess is the Americans,” he said.

“A lot of states are allowing industrial hemp to be grown on an experimental basis. I think Montana alone had something like 14,000 or 15,000 acres. That’s going to bite into our market.”

However, that’s why Canadian growers need to focus on opportunities, he said.

The hemp industry sees significant growth opportunities after Health Canada’s decision to allow harvest of the whole plant this year.

The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance appeared recently before the Senate agriculture committee to talk about the opportunities for cannabidiol extraction in addition to the traditional dehulled hemp seed, hemp seed oil and protein markets.

Dewar said the CHTA could likely administer the levy, at least initially, because there are only about 300 growers. About 135,000 acres were seeded to hemp in 2017.

These small numbers are why the producer committee wants a national levy.

“If you had a provincial body in each, (the levy) would get eaten up by administration,” he said.

He isn’t sure how long the Farm Products Council will take to make a decision, but noted the Canadian pork industry has been waiting since 2016 for a decision on its national levy application.

The beef sector is the only commodity with a national promotion and research agency.

The council will hold a panel hearing in Winnipeg Jan. 29 to hear presentations on the proposed agency and make its decision some time after that.

Anyone interested in the proposal is able to comment. Full details of the application can be found on the FPC website at www.fpcc-cpac.gc.ca.

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