The farm bill’s legalization of hemp as an agricultural crop has many farmers excited and eager to try it out on their farm. Mark Boyer is a farmer in Miami County and has been a champion for the legalization of industrial hemp in Indiana for some time. He says that the Indiana Legislature still needs to update state law to allow hemp production, and he told Hoosier Ag Today that he believes they are “4th and goal” to getting a common-sense bill through the statehouse. Once they do, the possibilities are endless.
“It’s estimated that there are approximately 22,000 different uses for hemp from different parts of the plant. How many of those uses are economically viable, we simply don’t know because we haven’t had the opportunity to explore the market.”
Boyer believes hemp fiber will be the biggest opportunity in Indiana.
“There is a large-scale end user that already exists within our own state here in Indiana and that is FlexForm Technologies in Elkhart, Indiana. They’re importing somewhere around the vicinity of 40 ton of hemp fiber a week, which is pretty significant. I really foresee the fiber as being the heavy hitter for Indiana agriculture as a whole.”
Boyer was able to grow hemp on his farm this past year with a permit from Purdue University to conduct research on the growing process; however, he was not able to profit from what he grew. Boyer owns Healthy Hoosier Oil, where he cold presses sunflower and canola into edible cooking oil. He plans to do the same with hemp oil.
Boyer says that growers need to be patient and have a plan.
“The infrastructure is not in place yet. I believe that it will grow, and it will take hold, but this is going to take some time. We’re in a really exciting time because I think there is a lot of potential, but I would caution any growers at this point to just to make absolutely certain before they grow hemp, or they ever put a seed in the ground, that they have a reputable end user and a market for the crop.
Boyer added that there are agronomy issues that need to be worked out as well. Since hemp has been a schedule 1 drug, herbicides and pesticides are not currently approved for use on industrial hemp. He did experience some weed pressure during his trial last year. Not that type of weed pressure, because hemp and marijuana are NOT the same thing. You know what I mean…