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31 December 2022

31 December 2022

AHC Presidents Report – December 2022

The coming year is going to be a big one for the Australian hemp industry.

If you are interested in what’s happening in the Australian fibre industry, then you need to attend (remotely or in person) the AHC fibre forum, to be held March 29th and 30th, venue yet to be confirmed.  This fibre specific forum will cover the 6 emerging major projects being developed over the next 2 years ranging from Townsville in north Queensland to Monarto in South Australia.  Some of these projects have farmers growing hemp for fibre already. Also covered at the forum will be end product markets, pitfalls of decortication development and an update on carbon sequestration opportunities.  Further details will be advertised within the next 4 weeks.

Recently Matt Weir from IKG industries gave a talk to the council on the unique technology and plans for their project development, just one of a number of exciting initiatives planned for the new year.

As a follow up on the saga for Vasse Valley Hemp with the online payment processor Stripe, we are happy to report that Stripe has reactivated their account and paid the funds owed to Vasse Valley.  In the meantime, Dr Bronwyn Blake – managing director of Vasse Valley hemp farm, has found that a small Australian online payment processor named were happy to work with them as an alternative to Stripe.

There is a pending report about to be released commissioned by Agrifutures on Technology mapping for industrial hemp, By Professor Derek Baker.  Keep an eye out for it as it is a comprehensive up to date and well researched analysis of industrial hemp technology, in particular relating to fibre industry development in Australia.  The purpose of the project is to scan horizons for suitable technology for a number of industries, and look at the mechanisms and incentives for change. We will provide a link to the report when it becomes available.

The IHVT first year trial reports for the 2021-22 growing season are now available on the Agrifutures website (links below).

Victoria – Hamilton Smart Farm
South Australia –  Loxton
South Australia – Maaoupe
Western Australia (Southern) –  Manjimup

AgriFutures will facilitate a workshop of identified collaborators in the Australian Industrial Hemp Five-Year Program of Research on 17th and 18th January 2023.  There will be 30 attendees who had earlier put in an expression of interest to attend.  I will be representing the AHC at the workshop.  At the conclusion of the workshop, some of us will be attending an IHVT field day at Loxton trial site in South Australia at 10 am 19th of January.  This field day at Loxton is open to the public.

The Best Management Practices guide project, administered by the AHC with Stuart Gordon as the project manager is nearing completion.  Currently it’s in the final stages with the agronomy working group and others providing a final industry review which closes 6th January.

State Reports

WA – Gail Stubber
WA has almost completed all plantings for this season.  There are eight known crops being grown of about 100 ha in the southern area of WA.  There are research trials in both Manjimup and Kununurra.

Greg LeGuier and Mark Power from Harvey Hemp. Picture: Harvey Hemp

Harvey Hemp received $50,000 under the Regional Economic Development Scheme for a seed drying and cleaning facility at their oil processing plant in Harvey. 

Minister McTeirnan has resigned from her portfolio from Department of Primary Industry and Regional development and we are waiting to see who is will be the new minister in charge of Agriculture and development.  Both of which are crucial to the development of Hemp in WA. HempGro (WA Hemp Growers’ Co-op) is aiming to have a round table with the person and inform them of the issues in developing the hemp industry and supply chain in WA and hopefully, plan out a strategy with their department for the next few years. 

The weather has proven to be a challenge for some of the farmers who have received rain at the wrong time of the year.  They are waiting to see if their crops are going to develop well.  There has been some rogue seed in WA that have not produced a good germination rate, which is disappointing for both farmers and the industry.  

The small processing unit is still under consideration for the South West but did not get a grant approval in the last round. 

The Co-op still has around 5 tonne of seed for sale – with a germination rate of 80%+ and certified IH, so looking for buyers across Australia  

The Senate Select committee into Cannabis and Industrial Hemp has not yet put out its recommendations.  IHWA aim will be to approach them in the New year and see if they need any more information.

Hemp Squared has been working in the innovative building space and has won the 2022 PropTech showdown award. This resulted in a TV show appearance, $1000 cash and bragging rights.

NT – Dominic Calder
The wet season is around the corner. Sowing of wet season crops has begun in trickles with early showers.

IVHT trial results have indicated the dual purpose varieties performed better. We look forward to the final analysis. 

NSW – Jaimie Milling
The rain has eased for the meantime in NSW with the ground drying out very quickly. Harvest is well on the way in the state with some great results and a few bad ones as well.

I have made contact with Mark Bryant several times now and helped him out with his request for Hemp Leaf. He is the AU partner for Rush. GMBH. Natural Products. 

I have gained approval and support from the NSW DPI with this project. The NSW DPI will allow me to move plant material from A to B within NSW to support the trial work needed for this Natural spray fungicide. I’ve been able to secure samples of leaf matter for this project.

This would be very beneficial to the hemp industry, for hemp growers having a guaranteed market at our doorstep.

QLD – Lauchlan Grout
QHA and QLD Parliament have been working together to improve small issues currently impeding major operations. Allowing leaf material to be removed from a production site for the purpose of biomass processing as well as alignment with the Hemp CRC to investigate research into sustainable/renewable projects.

QLD Policy managers have recognised there is a requirement to test industrial hemp plant material for the purpose of analysing health, recognising disease/virus and improving the agronomic knowledge of industrial hemp. Early 2023 will see an update to the Grower’s License to include this change, as well as other potential additions being discussed.

Cropping and Research:
Majority of the large crops have been pushed back to Feb/Mar planting windows due to potential hazardous rains. Approx 250ha will be planted in North QLD. Two mining companies are running phytoremediation trials on their soil (5ha each), with the plan to run 1000ha next June/July – collecting ACCU’s and exporting harvested material once processed to a large Japanese company. 

On the seed side of things, Hemp Farms Australia currently have 45 tonne of Ruby Seed which is available now as a result of an international buyer falling through with funding. This seed has been shown to have an 86% germination rate for upcoming grain and dual-purpose production sowing windows. Get in touch with Hemp Farms Australia for more info.

TAS – Tim Schmidt
We can confirm the planting area in Tasmania is the lowest since before hemp food was legalised, being under 100ha from a peak a few years ago of 1,400ha.  This is a result of overproduction, not a result of faltering sales.  Some consolidation in the industry is occurring where Australia Primary Hemp has merged with Hemp Foods Australia and ECS Botanics has sold their food division to Ananda Foods.

The IHVT trials have been planted and have emerged.

SA – Mick Anderson
Vircura have emerged in SA as a large grower and processor of hemp fibre. Good Country Hemp have assisted them by connecting growers who have sown 75ha of Ruby and Yuma varieties, the last pivot was sown late last week. Late season due to prolonged spring rainfall. They have purchased an Ashford decorticator whilst they wait for their US decorticator to arrive mid next year. They have plans to make hemp construction panels, hemp fibre composites and eventually bioplastics.

Hemp food sales are increasing month on month.

Hemp growers Steve and Mick Moutlon grew their first hemp crop in 2018/19 and have consistently broken yield records.

VIC – Lyn Stephenson
As at early December, it was still too wet to do anything.  By the end of December, the ground had dried out, water had receded in flooded areas and salvaging work in many areas had begun.  It is unlikely that there will be any significant hemp crops in the State this season.

The Victorian Government has brought into effect the 1% THC limit for processing seed, however they have kept the limit for planting seed at .35%, as opposed to .5% in other state areas.  The legislative review panel seemed to ignore comments and suggestions from Regenerative Hemp Victoria and the AHC on the proposed changes which have now been implemented.  We are making representations to the Agriculture Minister (who was newly appointed mid-year) and also to the Hemp Task Force.  The latter was established in 2019, and produced an interim report which was primarily a summary of the status of the industry in Australia and overseas.  There has been no further update on the operation of the Task Force.

There was a delegation of industrial hemp researchers from German and Belgian universities and research institutes to Australia and New Zealand in the week beginning November 14, 2022. The CSIRO at Werribee hosted them for part of their Australian visit by facilitating a seminar which provided an excellent opportunity for the Australian industrial hemp industry to meet with experts from Europe and to initiate collaborations between the AHC, the AIHA, AA, CSIRO and hopefully the hemp CRC.  Many interesting points from the European experience came out.  One notable example is that they are steering away from machine decortication and reverting to an improved method of field retting.

The Australian Hemp Council is a non profit volunteer organisation working hard to help the Australian hemp industry grow.  We thank you for helping us support those in the industry, when and where possible. By joining your state hemp organisation you will be giving us the needed support to help change our Australian hemp industry for the better.
As always, to be up to date for all information regarding hemp processing, growing in Australia be sure to subscribe to our mailing list through our website.

From everyone at the AHC, thanks again and see you next month.