Welcome to 2024, it’s going to be a huge year for the Australian hemp industry.
Hemp CRC-P The AHC has been invited by the lead partner, Revox Australia, to become a partner in the 3 year hemp CRC-P supported by the Commonwealth Government with the Melbourne University as the major research partner. The project description is as follows: This project proposes to use hemp farming as a solution to offset carbon emissions by the Australian industry; and use the hemp plant as an innovative timber alternative. Australia is facing a shortage in timber supply due to increased housing demand and bush fires and push to halt deforestation by 2030. This CRC-P aims to develop sustainable alternatives to timber products using well-established manufacturing technologies and innovative advanced processes. The proposed end-to-end approach will add value and efficiency by having visibility across the supply chain, leading to offsetting Australian industry’s CO2 emissions and net-zero requirements.
This project is an investment of almost $8M into research for the Australian hemp industry, designed to produce real commercial gains for the industry. The AHC’s main role is to provide industry insights and guidance for the research investment. We hope to encourage collaboration throughout the industry that will reduce duplication and ensure research investments provide the best value to industry possible.
The AHC also performs an advisory role for the Agrifutures $2.5M 5 year investment, this allows us to provide a link between the two projects to ensure further cooperation.
Australian Industrial Hemp Conference Interested in the most latest opportunities in the Australian hemp industry or looking to find out about investing or working in the hemp industry, or even planning research? The Australian Industrial Hemp Conference will be an event that can put you in touch with the businesses and institutions that are actually achieving gains within the industry, and provide the latest information on hemp production, processing and research. To be held April 16th, 17th 18th in the Hunter Valley NSW the conference will cover all key areas of the hemp industry. Click here to learn more and register.
Major AHC industry win! NSW regulators have granted special permission for Broadleaf Hemp to grow hemp for fibre processing which had tested just over the limit of .05% THC. The Queensland authorities had rejected a special permission proposal citing the fact that Ministerial discretion was not even allowed. The AHC, suggested and supported a request by Broadleaf to grow the crop in NSW, with the request now being granted for biomass products. It is heartening to see the NSW government demonstrating its support for the hemp industry by allowing practical actions under special circumstances. This decision has prevented a 2 year delay in fibre production and development for Broadleaf Hemp.
Political Developments The AHC has been actively building political support for the hemp industry over the last 2 years. I’m happy to say that we are now gaining some influential advocates for our industry. In NSW, Victoria and Tasmania there is growing acknowledgement and support for the hemp industry, with actions to be announced following parliamentary reviews in all three states. In Tasmania there has been tripartite political support for the industry for a number of years. At the federal level there is now the possibility of a parliamentary inquiry into the hemp industry being initiated, which will be a welcoming action. Also, we are gaining assistance in setting up a ‘Friends of Hemp’ group based at the national parliament where we can engage directly with national lawmakers. If you have any ideas or contacts we can work through in building this momentum, please let us know.
Industrial Hemp Variety Trials – Field Days Coming up are the IHVT field days around the country. Click on the links for more information and registration.
Hemp Growing and Building demonstration – Mt Barker, SA. For those who will be in the Mt Barker area of South Australia on 1st of February February, (between the IHVT field days in Maaoupe and Loxton) there will be an opportunity to attend a field day at a Hempcrete eco village, see Hempcrete panel construction and the use of a waste water to irrigate hemp biomass crop – now over 3m tall. This day is being run by Simon Crittenden from Hills Carpentry, accredited hemp builder, and John Muir who will be on hand to answer any agronomy queries. For further information email: Simon Crittenden – firstname.lastname@example.org John Muir – email@example.com
Agrifutures News Click here for the latest AgriFutures Industrial Hemp Newsletter
Medicinal Cannabis Facility Tour Last month I had the fascinating experience of touring a medicinal Cannabis farm. Whilst the AHC has a neutral position on the issue of marijuana (high THC Cannabis), it is still interesting to gain an insight into this industry. Here is some of what I learned:
1 in 12 Australians are now using subscribed bud for medicinal purposes.
70% of the facilities production is buds, which are smoked.
Trimmings off the buds go to extraction for liquid treatment products
Around 10% of production is cbd
A harvest supply lasts only 2 or so days
The facility currently produced around 2t of bud/annum, and has made a $20M investment into infrastructure with the goal to increase production to 10t/annum.
Medicinal Cannabis companies are reluctant to invest into research due to lack of IP protection.
Medicinal products do not actually make any claims.
Other observations include: The system is seriously over regulated with duplication across departments and government levels. Over-regulation has made Australian CBD production uncompetitive. Australia is the only country in the world where CBD is prescribed, in the UK, North America and other places, you can buy a packet of CBD gummies at the service station to enjoy while travelling.
The AHC policy is based on whole of plant use; all components should be available to the farmer to easily produce and supply, with the exception of THC.
Agronomy Great news! Hemp is now listed on the Fusilade Forte label for the control of grass in hemp crops. This is a result of the efforts by the late Ken McGee, whom we had discussions with some years ago on achieving this result. This is a world first for this active as far as we know. A small but important step in establishing hemp as a mainstream agricultural crop. We are also waiting on a response from the APVMA on an application for the registration of bromicide. One of the benefits of being a member of an AHC association, is access to the AHC Grower Forum. If you are wanting to learn more about growing hemp, you can put your question to the forum and we’ll have an expert hemp agronomist answer. You can also share your expereince with other growers so we all learn from each other. Click Register on the Grower Forum homepage.
Heliothis control For those with crops about to become susceptible to heliothis, click here for information on a treatment option.
Food Group – Mick Andersen There could be a shortage of hemp grain for food available for processing next year due to limited sowings in Tasmania and elsewhere. With the shortage comes the risk that this will encourage imports. The food group are initiating discussions on further work and investment into research on genetics of hemp grown under Australian conditions. We are also exploring potential for a national marketing drive supported by all local hemp food companies. Working through the ACCC to help address the social media restrictions on hemp marketing is a priority. Craig Johns and Patrick O’Connor from Adelaide University have agreed to rerun a consumer survey early this year. This will be an updated repeat of the survey conducted in December 2020 to gauge how Australian markets for hemp foods have progressed. Market research is necessary before a collaborative national marketing campaign for hemp foods is initiated. We are also working on semi-commercial trials of dryland winter hemp varieties in South Australia for grain production, further details will be in our next report.
Fibre Group The next fibre group meeting will be coming up soon, if you would like to join the meeting and have not received an invitation previously, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure you receive a link to the meeting. We are aware of around 5 major fibre development projects being planned and put together at the moment. Many are focussed on hemp building development and resources are being put towards research in this area. We have seen a government focus on fibre industry development in both NSW and Victoria, with some exciting news coming our way soon. Understand some of the local fibre industry trends by following developments in this Business News Australia article on Hemp Farms Australia.
SouthFibre, part of the Hepburn Ag Group, have lodged an application to establish a hemp processing facility in South Australia’s Wattle Range area, 370km southeast of Adelaide. This proposal is for hemp processing and storage, Hepburn Hemp says it supplies a range of industrial hemp materials to industries; including the textile, packaging, horticulture, animal care and construction sectors.
Fodder Group – Bronwyn Blake The Fodder Group has had two meetings so far with the APVMA and we have made significant progress for the industry. A key development is the establishment of a differentiation between stock feeds and pet foods. The APVMA clarified it has no jurisdiction over stockfeed products which has been a relief to a number of businesses which had received notices to cease trading. With a little research, we have determined that around 8 to 12 tonne of hemp by products are sold per month into the animal market. This is an important supplement to hemp industry returns given the current low profitability in the human hemp food market. We are pleased to have helped clarifiy and secure the hemp stockfeed retail market, currently valued between $2M to $4M. There is however is still more to do.
The APVMA currently considers that: All hemp supplements/additives are considered veterinary chemical products because they contain cannabinoids (some from inadequate cleaning) and omega fatty acidsboth of which have known therapeutic effects. Some hemp supplements/additives may be exempted from registration if they satisfy the requirements of Excluded Nutritional and Digestive (END) products. Questions have been raised about omega fatty acids in other plant/vegetable seeds, these are exempted from registration if the oil is included in the GRAS lists for Excluded Nutritional and Digestive ingredients or other exemptions listed in the Agvet code regulations.
We estimate the companion animal market to be worth $3M to $6M, however as of now due to the definition cited above the APVMA has put a stop to this market.
The AHC Fodder Group is working with the APVMA to find ways to prevent the shutdown of the companion animal market for hemp seed and oil. We are also engaging with the government on this issue, including the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, (DAFF) and the Federal Minister for Agriculture. In other words, hemp seed and hemp seed oil are considered veterinary chemicals in part because they contain omega fatty acids. A point the AHC would make is that linseed oil contains omega fatty acids and is not considered a veterinary chemical. It is also a known fact that hemp seed itself contains no cannabinoids. The goal of the AHC is to have hemp seed and hemp seed oil added to the GRAS list. This is the same healthy hemp seed oil dressing you pour on the salad for the kids at dinner time. Once on the GRAS list we can satisfy the END (Excluded Nutritional and Digestive) products requirements, which means hemp seed oil may be sold for companion animals. This is why we need our membership support, so we have a collective voice for issues such as this.
Carbon Sequestration – Lauchlan Grout On September 26th we held our second Carbon Group meeting which was very progressive and insightful. With 20 attendees we gained major industry input into setting our agenda and key milestones for 2024. Following are the outcome points of the meeting:
Discuss and report on the hemp carbon sequestration market, processing and regulatory developments to the AHC
Provide guidance on and insights for AHC policy development in support of the Australian hemp carbon industry including:
on the subject of industry research priorities
setting of carbon standards and methodologies in various sequestration systems
implementation of a carbon sequestration system for the Australian Hemp industry.
Document a comparative business case on this aspect of the industry including estimates on industry investment, growth and returns over the next 10 years in the event of a change in regulations allowing the consideration of carbon credits for hemp carbon sequestration.
Contribute suggestions and assist in proactive actions relating to government policy development including formulation of national legislation relating to the hemp carbon sequestration.
Include hemp biochar and bio fuel industries under the carbon group considerations
We will be scheduling our next Carbon Group meeting prior to the end of March, if you have not previously been involved and would like to receive an invitation please email email@example.com
Queensland Recent hail storms and bad weather have affected crops, impacting on both trials and commercial cropping. Given the latitudes involved, crop planting in QLD will continue into the winter.
New South Wales We are looking forward to the formation of an industry task force to assist industry development in NSW.
Victoria We have been engaging with the Victorian Farmer’s Federation who are supportive of our activities. At our recent AGM the following were elected to our board: Lyn Stephenson – President, Matt Lariba – Vice President, Sherri Smith-Hoyer – Secretary, Dan Walker – Treasurer. Our General Committee members are Stuart Gordon, David Brian and Rhonda Lanna. We have drafted a letter for the AHC to send to ACCC concerning hemp food and Meta/Facebook bans. A grower day is being planned for early this year. The Parliamentary Inquiry has released its final report. We have experienced a lot of wet weather lately which has damaged and destroyed some crops.
Tasmania The season here has got off to a much better start than last year. The crops here are looking very good.
With their successful capital raise, X Hemp can now plant fibre crops with confidence, looking at around 70 ha. For seed crops there are limited plantings been undertaken, probably no more than 50 ha in seed for food plantings, this will be confirmed later in the year.
The state government has tabled revised hemp legislation, which falls well short of our needs, however we acknowledge that the state government is constrained by federal regulations. In a week or so we have a follow up meeting with the state government to discuss the outcomes for the legislative review and how to move forward. Click here to compare all State Legislation and Regulations.
The Industrial Hemp Variety Trials have been plagued with problems relating to supply of seed, having the Chinese varieties excluded from the trials for not arriving in time for planting.
The THA have been successful with a state government grant application, securing funding support for the next year or so. There is an education day planned for the 17th February, details can be found on the THA website.
South Australia It’s been a dry finish for winter cereal crops, this has also made it a challenge for a 47ha dryland Ferimon 12 grain crop 40km south of Bordertown. Despite this it looks promising and may yield better than expected. Three other growers have sown grain varieties this week in the South East region for Good Country Hemp and Ananda Foods. Fibre crops have been sown in the same region for Hepburn Ag.
The first IHASA newsletter has been published and distributed, put together by Dianne Sharpe and Bernard Thomson.
The results from the recent IHASA Committee election are Adam Djekic (Vircura), Mark Catalano (Alano Pty.Ltd) and Mick Andersen (Good Country Hemp). Fourth member on the EC is Bernard Thomson. The first meeting of the new committee was held Monday 15th January.
Unseasonal rainfall since early December has been good for irrigated hemp crops but not good for farmers harvesting winter cereals. The Ferimon crop sown September 14 has been harvested with a reduced yield due to a dry start. Other irrigated crops are progressing well.
Western Australia Very few are growing this season. Harvey Hemp has a crop in and have several farmers growing seed for them. Margaret River Hemp Processors have a couple of farmers growing for them The Co-Op has about 2 tonne of high quality French seed available (Orion and Fibror) for sowing or food processing. Please contact Gail Stubber if interested.
Many industry members are feeling generally frustrated with the level of restrictions at every stage of the supply chain, including outdated policies of corporate giants such as Amazon and Meta.
The project ‘Opening the gates to hemp grazed livestock’ final report has been submitted to Agrifutures, we will notify when the report has been published.
Vasse Valley has been notified by the Health Department that terpenes are not recognised as foods and must not be sold as foods. The terpene range has now been reclassified as cosmetics. A warning to all hemp businesses selling terpenes not to market these products as foods and do not make health claims to avoid future government intervention.
Northern Territory The main activity to report is the running of the Industrial Hemp Variety Trials, where field days will be held in June for growers and researchers to inspect the crops at Katherine. See details above
Support our growing industry To help build our political and social momentum, I urge industry supporters to join our state organisations. We now have around 100 committee supporters assisting the AHC, all volunteers. Our membership is growing, we now have almost 500 members under the AHC banner. We have been working hard to bring about change for the hemp industry and we need your support to get the job done. So please encourage those who believe in this industry to sign up and support our growing industry.
The AHC is a voluntary organisation supported by lots of individuals determined to support the successful establishment of an Australian hemp industry. The more members we have, the more we can achieve.
Thanks for reading and if you’re not already subscribed, join now to stay up to date with any new information regarding hemp around Australia.
From everyone at the AHC, thanks again and see you next month.