• 64°

Getting in on the ground floor

WINDSOR – The application process is now underway across the state for acceptance into a pilot program to grow industrial hemp for research in North Carolina.

The state legislature has approved industrial hemp as a crop in the North Carolina, under a closely monitored program.

There is no deadline to apply for the program, which is open to farmers who can show evidence of income from a farming operation.

“The N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission has worked diligently and quickly to establish temporary rules before the 2017 planting season,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “There has been considerable interest in this program, and we expect a good number of farmers to apply for licenses.”

Meanwhile, an information session, hosted by the Bertie County Cooperative Extension Service, for local landowners interested in the program will be held from 2-4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8 at the Windsor Community Building at 201 South Queen Street. Topics being discussed include production, rules, regulations and application process and potential markets in the area.

The meeting is free but those planning to attend are asked to register by calling the Extension office at 252-794-5317.

Under the rules of the industrial hemp program, farmers will need to apply for a license, which will allow the holder to plant, harvest and market the crop. Licenses can be for one or three years. Applications will be reviewed and approved or denied by the Industrial Hemp Commission.

Applicants will have to pay an annual fee, must provide evidence of having income from a farming operation, must provide a written statement of the research objective, and must provide access to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Plant Industry Division and law enforcement for sampling in the field or in storage.

Applicants can find more eligibility requirements online at www.ncagr.gov/hemp/Rules.

To obtain an application, go to www.ncagr.gov/hemp and click on the application link, or contact Meghan Roche, seed and fertilizer field supervisor, at 919-707-3735 or by email at meghan.roche@ncagr.gov.

Founder’s Hemp, based in Asheboro, is North Carolina’s first company registered with the State of North Carolina to aggregate hemp grown by farmers and process it for industrial use.

The company, which was organized last year as the first vertically integrated hemp processor in the state, registered with the North Carolina Hemp Commission on Friday, Feb. 24.

Industrial hemp has a wide variety of uses. Fiber is used in twine, paper, construction materials, carpeting and apparel. Seeds and leaves are used in making industrial oils, cosmetics, medicine and nutritious food products.

Hemp is grown in more than 30 countries, and it has been legal to import hemp products into the United States for many years. The federal Agricultural Act of 2014 called for universities and state departments of agriculture to begin cultivating domestic industrial hemp.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal