Farmers at World Ag Expo learn how hemp could become new cash cow

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — It’s day two of the International World Ag Expo in Tulare, more than 100,000 people, from nearly 60 countries, are expected to attend.

They’re all here checking out the Ag industries, latest in technology, products, and the newest product is hemp.

For the first time ever, hemp had a big presence at the Ag expo.

There are over 30 exhibitors and about 15 seminars going on a day, all to help educate and talk about what hemp now means for the Ag industry.

Hemp has been the talk for quite some time, which has some confused.

Many think it’s marijuana but those in the hemp industry say even though it’s from the same plant, it’s not. 

“Hemp is really a regulatory designation, it’s not the genetics, it’s not the botany of the plant, it’s actually the Federal government saying if it’s less then three-tenths of one percent THC compound in the plant, then it’s hemp if it has more than that it’s not hemp anymore,” says Christian Gray with HiLo Seed Co.

In 2018 the Farm Bill reintroduced hemp to U.S. Agriculture. Interest has since grown nationwide, many call it the new cash crop.

“You can grow it for fiber, you can grow it for clothing, you can grow it for food,” says another representative of HiLo Seed Co.

And that’s just what those attending the International World Ag Expo are learning under the new Hemp Pavilion tent.

Dozens of vendors are on hand to educate those interested in the machinery used to plant hemp and harvest it.

There are also several seminars and associations that are working to teach people all about the right way to grow hemp.

But while it may seem like this is the future, there are some setbacks.

“Banking is the thing you don’t think about when you’re growing corn or sweet potatoes or soybeans, getting banking services for hemp farmers is a real issue, the other thing that came out just recently is pilot programs for crop insurance because it’s a specialty crop and it’s got a higher value, so getting insurance is a challenge, you wouldn’t grow corn if you couldn’t insure it, so these things are getting in place right now,” says Gray.

Another thing slowing the hemp industry down is the lack of processors.

“Right now it’s all about getting processors, our farmers can grow anything and grow it well, but it’s just getting it processed and onto the market,” says Jennifer Fawkes with the International World Ag Expo.

While many are thrilled about the potential of hemp, others in the Ag industry are not.

“I think hemp is a bunch of BS and it changes the demographics of your town,” says Scott Howarth, a Tulare resident. 

The final day of the expo is Thursday, Feb. 13. 

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