AHC Report Summary 2020/2021
The Australian Hemp Council was formally incorporated in August 2020. The following report is taken from reports shared at our monthly Council meetings.
National Summary – June 2020 to December 2020
Initial meetings addressed the establishment of organisational frameworks and in house policy including meeting procedures, refinement of the constitution and other matters.
Contact was made with Australian Industrial Hemp Regulators Network to raise issues of concern to members across Australia. The state regulators have invited the AHC to contribute to their meetings as part of the national communication strategy.
The Texas Hemp Growers Association has contact the AHC regarding a hemp genome research and setting up a seed bank.
The council had discussions on options to generate revenue to pay for the AHC activities. Also covered was the establishment of an industry research levy, which would have to be legislated and may take a number of years to be finalized.
Survey results on community awareness and acceptance of hemp food were discussed and is available on the website.
The Council agreed to endorse and support the Canadian Hemp Traders’ Alliance initiative for the formation of an International Hemp Federation.
The AHC had written to Agrifutures laying out concerns on a lack of transparency and engagement with the Australian industrial hemp industry.
The AHC had approached the state regulators asking for general data on licenses and areas planted for each state so collated information on industry development would become available.
Discussions were had on the variation of different state regulations and how we could generate a review comparing the differences.
AHC to be represented at the NZ I Hemp conference.
Our meeting guest, Leigh Hammer discussed industry development including an app that will help trace seed for security.
June 24th was set for the first AHC agronomy working group meeting.
Reports by State
iHemp WA – Gail Stubber
WA has a small contingent of growers active this season. Of the 90 licensees about 20 are active in growing hemp. It has been a good season for the southern farmers. Margaret river Hemp processing has 3 farmers growing FROG for them and they are happy with the result of those farmers. They are going to have their processing plant certified by an engineer by the end of January. The Co-op has a broad acre farmer who is very pleased with his crop in Albany. However, at the moment we are still trying to work out where to sell the seed.
FFLI – has been working on getting a dehulling machine working for the end of this season.
Vasse Valley – has now purchased a mobile cleaning machine with the aim of cleaning seed on farm before purchasing for their food business.
The ChemCentre has asked HempGro and Natsoft to support them in their bid for a grant to develop a seed/genetic storage facility. They will be using the Seed traceability app as their data collection tool.
The processing facility at MRHP is now operating. WA Hemp Growers Co-op. is about to order new seed out of France for the coming season. We have some farmers harvesting. Some bad experiences but also one farmer is doing it well and will produce a video to help out with setting up the harvester.
Texas dry seed research – Zoom meeting eventuated and they (Hemp Farms Texas and Texas State University) are putting together a grant proposal to identify all known hemp seeds through DNA and Genome mapping. They are then going to store the seeds from these varieties in the UN Seed bank in New York. They are asking us for support to boost their bid by advising them of our seed varieties used in Australia. The Texas farming group is aiming to find a dryland hemp seed that grows well in that climate.
Margaret River Processing have their machine working and have put through a number of bales. All their product is for research and to build houses Hemp Homes Australia has on its books.
Seed regulator in WA is changing positions and so they seemed to have paused in getting new licenses and paperwork.
Webinar today on Hemp in fodder which was very interesting and is progressing to the next research base.
Hemp symposium on Saturday 20th March at the Fremantle Sailing Club.
The hemp Symposium was good but very much the same talks by the same faces. Mainly about building. However the cost was too high and people did not come along. There is a discussion to hold something in October and hopefully it will be more inclusive of the general public.
HempGro has ordered 9 tonne of seed from France. The Seed trials are coming to an end but as yet DPIRD have not shared or allowed any visits. Most people have harvested but I have not yet got any numbers on how they did.
The Co-op attempt to bring in a processing unit has ground to a halt – due to funding. Margaret River Hemp Processing has their machine working and producing hurd for their houses. A company in Denmark has made hemp Spritzer – Cannabis Brewing Distillery – using distilling and terpenes for flavour. Awesome job. Vasse Valley has a new product and is talking about exporting to Asia.
There is some support for a levy in WA, but there is a need for good governance on how the funds are allocated.
NT Farmers – Andrew Philip
NT has received a good start to the wet season, not only in the north, but also throughout most of the NT. There are now 4 Hemp licences issued and some strong interest.
There will be a wet season (dry land planting), with more plantings targeting the dry season irrigated window.
NT Farmers is asking for expressions of interest to look at forming an NT iHemp association over the coming months.
NT Government ready to launch pre-feasibility study to Hemp in NT.
Heavy rainfalls – people ready to plant irrigated crops. NT grower looking to plant in about a month’s time. Aileron Station looking to finish a new block.
At this stage it doesn’t look like there will be anything significant happening commercially in the NT this year, although there are 2 or 3 guys are still researching what they will do.
There is a Hemp session at the NT Farmers Food Futures conference next week.
New Agronomist (NT Government) on board and will start trials in conjunction with WA DPIRD).
iHemp NSW – Jaimie Milling
iHemp NSW had discussions with the NSW DPI Senior Inspector of Biosecurity and Fraud division who are pleased about the formation of the AHC. We also informed the department on the formation of iHemp NSW. They are happy to support the AHC and iHemp NSW.
Also discussed were the harmonization of all states and territories with Hemp licencing rules and guidelines, THC rules and auditing format. Discussions also included maintaining a full database on each licensee that goes into a state database so as a state we can see the total area planted, seed or fibre crops grown, varieties used, non or certified seed used, seeding and fertility rates/ha etc.
We discussed the feeding of hemp biomass to livestock. iHemp NSW was informed that the feeding of biomass had been passed and has been approved legally since late 2018 as long as the leaf has dropped off the plant.
iHemp NSW has learnt that the TGA have been calling the NSW DPI fraud squad re false therapeutic product claims and wanting the DPI to investigate these claims. The DPI told the TGA it was their responsibility, not the DPI.
Update re new association – Set up Assoc., set up accounts, finalised fees etc. Have people in all positions. Thank you to Bernard for help with association documents.
Ihemp – same domain names, and look for all three states in the eastern.
Association registered and members have been invited.
Ecofibre will support iHemp NSW as a paying member.
On Monday 17/5/21 the NSW DPI Senior Regulators have invited AHC representatives Tim Schmidt and myself into a zoom meeting to discuss the Industrial Hemp Industry of NSW moving forward and also working with the rest of the states and territories in AU.
I was told today by one Senior NSW Regulator, The AHC is doing some great work in the hemp industry and has the full support of the NSW DPI Regulators.
I was contacted by Stuart Gordon from CSIRO about sending square bales of Hemp fibre to Alberta, Canada to do fibre processing and testing of different hemp varieties from AU.
Through Tim’s introduction I have made contact with Leah Hamer. Leah is helping me with website design for iHemp NSW’s, domain set-up, membership links, and Paypal setup. Leah has some great ideas for our website being proactive and giving to our NSW members.
iHemp NSW has paid their $1000 to the AHC Association last week.
I had a farmer contact me from south western NSW. They have formed a hemp growers group that wants to learn more about the industry, growing hemp, agronomy, seed varieties and markets. I have offered to attend one of their grower meetings with an Agronomist and a couple of growers to offer help and support giving them some insight into the industry.
THA – Tim Schmidt
Crops going well. Planning an agronomy pre harvest day Feb 19th.
Crops looking best yet. Heliothis is one major issue for the state. – spraying now has an issue with withholding as it is a 28 day withhold. Major pre harvest field day to be held next Friday. Stuart Gordon and Rob. Bell coming to the field day. Top looking crops and high yields are expected. Rain events in the last week.
Harvest has begun and the yields are promising. This year is opposite to last where the grain is coming in quite clean and at lower moisture. We are about halfway through. The Finola is showing to be an advantage given there is less residue to deal with in the field. XHemp has arranged supply of raw material from a number of major growers for the hurd extraction plant which will be set up and running in a couple of months’ time, supplying the local building market.
Tasmania State Growth has been approached by Agrifutures with regard to the National Variety Trials. As per usual things are moving oh so slowly, we hope to have something set up by next spring.
We had a very well attended agronomy session at Woodlands as per comments in our THA newsletter. Unfortunately not many growers were here, however the agronomists gave us some very useful insights. At the same time Andi had about 50 people very interested in the hemp building aspect, touring a hemp house etc. Afterwards we all enjoyed hemp burgers and beer.
I think we have just over half the crop harvested here in Tassie. The weather and conditions have been very good with yields up and harvest samples some of the best seen yet. Such a difference to last year’s conditions.
Andi’s machine is in progress. She has achieved a great job having raised the funds with so little Govt. and institutional assistance. Some of the growers have also shown great commitment as well.
Agrifutures have been arranging a proposal with our government to move the NVT forward which we have been supporting. Given there has been a snap election called here, everything is on hold until after May.
Andi is expecting the arrival of the hurd processor by the end of this month. I called in at Ashford and the processor looked good and am looking forward to seeing it in operation in Tassie.
Many of you would have heard about my ‘hi’ thc crop, it was only 1.5ha and 1.5% thc. The regulators thought it was good that it was highlighted in the media as it showed transparency in the industry and that the regulators are helping the industry remain within the legislative parameters.
The hurd extractor has arrived and is settling in nicely. The winter has turned wet.
Recently at our THA board meeting, a major discussion was had around the issue of broadening the message from the association about extracts and other products of hemp other than food and fibre.
Met a grower yesterday, this will be his last year growing hemp as he plans to expand his dairy herd, he had been growing hemp for about 9 years.
IHASA – Mick Andersen
Crops in SA growing well with good climate conditions so far. Yields expected to be quite good with PR-13 variety showing the greatest potential at onset of flowering last week. Some biological controls for heliothis being trialled for the first time this season between 2 growers. PIRSA trial taking place for a fourth year but no field days planned yet.
PIRSA trial site field days at Loxton and Maaoupe will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. The day will include an open meeting to discuss trial results from the previous 3 years.
Commercial crops are looking extremely good with the first 60ha crop to be harvested in about 2 weeks. One crop in particular inspected today is expected to yield over 1.5 tonne/ha.
Harvest has begun with yields looking very good; well up on last year. Several small takers of fibre from harvested crops – for paper pilot plant, another for mixing hemp fibre elements with kelp for biochar (for household electricity storage batteries), and one for making biodegradable plastic replacement products.
We are most likely proceeding with a television advertising campaign around hemp foods to increase our market share but also to increase the awareness of hemp foods and dispel the drug myth further and educate people.
We almost have the results of our market research. A survey of over 1000 Australians on their knowledge and opinions about hemp. This was a government funded survey, initiated from the GCH office through Food SA, and the results will be shared to all once the results are published.
Good Country Hemp have started working with NatSoft on the development of processing aspects of the HI-Track software. GCH are entering a private arrangement with Natsoft for the subscription and use of the app mainly for product traceability.
Season 20/21 is finished with much improved yields over previous 2 seasons. Average (pre- cleaning) yield about 1.6 t/ha, best crop 3.2t/ha. All growers indicate they will plant again in November.
One grower has baled about 90 big squares of hemp stubble which will be supplied to a SA builder who is building 2 hemp homes near Adelaide, for a small baling and transport fee. Any left-over bales will go to a composting trial near Adelaide.
Some hemp stubble samples have been given to another composting facility in the South East who will have it tested for C/N ratio to determine its suitability. We need to actively pursue other options for stubble use for SA seed crops to prevent burn-offs and to provide an additional source of income for growers.
The Hemp, Cannabis, Mind, Body and Psychic Expo was held in Adelaide late last month and quite a good attendance from all sorts of people. There is talk of a decorticator being established in SA. GCH has employed a sales manager based in Adelaide and working towards all packaging being plastic free. We will soon be launching our new business/website Hemp Boost which is pet foods incorporating all hemp processing by-products.
iHemp VIC – Darren Christie
Crops are going well. Nothing else to report.
So far 5 fibre trial crops are going well around the state of Victoria. We have issues with water on a couple of crops. Two parts of the state have allocated water programs and the cost are blowing out. While they were advised on this, water usage and the cost of water, climate issues, its adding cost to the farmer. This may make the crop unviable because of the farm gate price before it even gets to processing.
Hopefully soon we will be shifting the decorticator to Shepparton while trying to minimise transport cost as well which is another concern for the processing. There is a lot of confusion with industry slamming different pricing structure on the fibre, with a passing comment from a grower should we be getting $2000 a ton, this is what one processor has set as a standard price for hurd, so farmers are confused about the variability of the price of hurd.
We are talking with other industry drivers about our pricing for the hurd, imported seems to be coming in at a fast rate with some people capitalizing on this. It is not helping our Australian industry growth here at all, or minimising costs for hempcrete building.
There are concerns about hemp food products and labelling from overseas imports. Fibre transport logistics are still a major concern.
We had to cancel a Q and A night due to Covid again in Victoria.
R & D grants are facilitating collaboration with Monash University.
QHA – Lauchlan Grout
Membership forms have been received from Tim Schmidt which will be edited for members to complete for joining the Queensland Hemp Council.
AGM booked for 28th July in Brisbane CBD.
Association bank account will be created once the association has been officially formed.