Local farmers looking seriously at hemp production - | WBTV Charlotte

Local farmers looking seriously at hemp production

Rowan County farmer Andy Corriher, left, and Founder's Hemp operator Bob Crumley, right talking about hemp farming. (Source: David Whisenant-WBTV) Rowan County farmer Andy Corriher, left, and Founder's Hemp operator Bob Crumley, right talking about hemp farming. (Source: David Whisenant-WBTV)

Nearly two hundred farmers, business operators, and experts from Rowan and surrounding counties and several other states packed the Cooperative Extension auditorium on Wednesday to learn more about producing industrial hemp.  It's an old crop that's making a strong comeback.

For farmers it comes down to having a durable, versatile crop, for the folks running the meeting, it's about a getting in on a growing industry at "seed level."

“Today’s meeting, we had to move it to this location because the response has just been overwhelming," said Bob Crumley, operator of Founder's Hemp, and a founder of the new North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association. “There are farmers big and small all over this state that need a new seed crop, they need something else.”

Crumley was hoping to sign up farmers to produce the crop for his new facility.  

Industrial hemp can be used for dozens of purposes, but getting a buzz is not one of them.  Industrial hemp does not share the chemical characteristics of marijuana, and new legislation mandates that it contain a THC level of less than three-tenths of one percent.

And while you can't smoke, you can eat it.

“These are very good, they’re crunchy, slightly sweet," one attendee said after munching down on a handful of roasted hemp seeds.

“We’re going to be from seed all the way through finished product sales, we’re going to locate in Asheboro, we’re signing up farmers right now throughout central North Carolina to grow for our company," Crumley said. “We’re going to be providing whole seed for human consumption, roasted seed, we’ll be manufacturing and providing cold press oil used in salads, used in cosmetics, used in shampoos, a lot of different uses for the products we’re creating in Asheboro. Our goal is to get a crop in the ground in 2017, I believe we will meet that.”

Meeting that ambitious goal will take some action by state government.  Farmers in North Carolina will have to be licensed to produce industrial  hemp, and as of now, that process is not in place. Even so, Rowan County farmer Andy Corriher says he’s in.

“We’re always interested in new crops coming along.  This isn’t actually a new crop, it’s been around a long time," Corriher said. “Everybody is kind of jumping in blind at this point, we’re gonna kind of feel our way in and just see what happens.”

This year, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation allowing the production of industrial hemp across the State under the provisions of the federal legislation

Corriher says hemp does a good job at withstanding drought and heat, and would be a good fit.  He’s already committed several hundred acres if the deal can be worked out.

“We’re excited about…the returns, from the research that we’ve done, are pretty good," Corriher added.

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