Industrial hemp could be big, but for red tape

Hemp seeds can be used in many foods – but not in Tasmania.

OUT in the fields and talking with farmers it is glaringly obvious Tasmania is missing out on a huge opportunity from one of the oldest sustainable industries on the planet: industrial hemp.

Tasmania stands on the brink of a bold new industry with hemp. However, despite having many regulatory regimes to develop models for production of industrial hemp, we are going nowhere.

Industrial hemp is not a drug: it has virtually has no THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. It seems to get confused with medicinal cannabis.

The two are quite separate: hemp is used for food and fibre, medicinal cannabis to help pain relief.

We need the discussions and debate on medicinal cannabis, but we must have delineation of the two issues.

Smart farmers Tim Schmidt and his wife Pip this season grew their first small crop of industrial hemp on their 330ha farm near Deloraine for human consumption because not only is it a great crop to grow but has so many health advantages.

Tasmania is one of only two places in the world where you can’t consume industrial hemp. It’s just crazy.

Hemp seeds and oil are used in many countries in a range of foods, including health bars, salad oils, non-soy tofu, non-dairy cheeses, as an additive to baked goods, as well as being used as the whole seed, raw or roasted.

The leading representative body for Tasmanian primary producers, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, says there is too much State-based regulation for farmers to grow industrial hemp profitably.

It doesn’t make sense that there are more rules around growing industrial hemp than for growing opium poppies.

About 60ha of industrial hemp is grown in Tasmania, mainly in the North and North West, but it could be grown as a broadacre rotational crop on the back of significant investment by farmers in irrigation.

Industrial Hemp Association of Tasmania president Phil Reader, from Bishopsbourne, says there is plenty of interest from farmers to grow the crop.

Positive signs from State Primary Industries and Water Minister Jeremy Rockliff saying his new AgriGrowth Tasmania department will report on how to cut red tape.

Denison independent Andrew Wilkie is a vocal advocate, and has called on the Government to change the Food Standards Code to open up the industrial hemp market.

Well, it’s time stop the talk and dig in for action.

By Roger Hanson a Tasmanian journalist and rural reporter who writes for Tasmanian Country and the Mercury.

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Review Industrial hemp could be big, but for red tape!

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