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TAS Country : March 10th 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011 Tasmanian Country 15 High time hemp backed CHEWS theFAT David Byard One of the problems in Tasmania is getting rotational crops and it appears that hemp may fit the bill as it needs very little water and actually helps the soils that it grows in.' NO THRILLS: Hemp grower Phil Reader. WE have all heard the State Government talk about Tasmania being the food bowl of the nation. We have plenty of water, plenty of cropping ground and plenty of farmers. We've even heard government authorities say they plan to hold forums interstate to attract farmers here. In Tasmania, we can grow many different types of crops, however the most important thing is to get a price that is above the cost of production so producers remain viable. An influx of water and interstate farmers could be an exercise in futility. For years, people have spoken about and even tried growing industrial hemp. One of the biggest impediments facing those who grow hemp is that this crop comes under the Poisons Act, even though the hemp that people like Phil Reader is growing is vastly different from the marijuana plant people grow to get high. And while industrial hemp comes from the same marijuana species it is nigh impossible to get a thrill from smoking it. It is worth noting that if the hemp grown commercially cross pollinates with the marijuana, it dilutes the latter. If the two hemps are grown within five kilometres of one another, it is more than likely this will happen. Anybody who knows Phil Reader would know the sort of person he is and his level of determination. Reader has been growing industrial hemp for the past six years, and he has had to jump through hurdles that a lot of other farmers would find too difficult to deal with. One of the things he initially wanted to find out was whether hemp could be grown in Tasmania's climatic conditions. Furthermore, he had to find out by trial and error was which was the most suitable type to grow. Some of the hemp plants grow up to 4m high, however Reader prefers the seed variety which he believes is more suited to Tasmania's conditions and infrastructure. I was fascinated by the range of products that comes from the seed that comes from the hemp that is being grown here. Oils extracted from the seeds seem to have a huge amount of potential and are used for bio-fuel, medicine, oils, fibre and food. Worldwide, there seems to be a huge shortage of hemp seeds. Canada started looking at hemp about the same time Tasmania started talking about it and unlike Tasmania decided to grow it. Hemp production in Canada is reportedly worth in excess of $58 million per annum. And Canada has expressed interest in purchasing seeds from Tasmania due to a shortage in that country. While all this is happening, Australia is importing large amounts of hemp oil from around the world for a variety of products. Although trials have been conducted in Tasmania, restrictions are onerous and some include a directive that the crop cannot be grown in a paddock next to a road or within 5 kilometres of a school. People growing the crop have to undergo a police check and they have to get a licence to store, grow and transport the plant. And anybody cleaning the seed has to have a pharmacist licence. Our state laws seem to be tighter than those in other states. It would be easy to blame bureaucracy for the lack of will in getting hemp up as a viable crop, however, I can't find a business case or study that would justify taking hemp off the poisons list. I am not suggesting that there isn't an extremely good business case out there, it's just that I haven't seen one. One of the things a business case could find out is whether we can compete against cheap labour in the fields as well as in the factory, while competing against subsidised products from Europe. One of the problems in Tasmania is getting rotational crops and it appears that hemp may fit the bill as it needs very little water and actually helps the soils that it grows in. Another one of the problems is getting downstream processing up and running which would probably be viable if hemp is accepted as a genuine crop. As it stands now, Victoria has facilities to process seed and make oil.Some federal politicians in the past said that hemp was a dangerous plant and people would be confused about the varieties. Police officers have also expressed some concerns. However, we are the only Western country to have taken a stand. Perhaps we need to acquaint ourselves with the arguments for and against a crop that can offer wealth to this state. Growing hemp is a no-brainer and if we want to create wealth in this state we need to get off our back sides and do it. 2034990-110304 As an official sponsor, Tasmanian Country has exclusive distribution rights within the Quercus Grounds of Agfest For Advertising Contact Tracey Wright Phone: 62 300 752 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Carolyn Baker Phone: 62 300 640 Email: email@example.com BEWARE OF IMITATIONS *Place your advert in the ONLY OFFICIAL AGFEST edition SPECIAL OFFICIAL EDITION - CIRCULATION: 26,000 COPIES Published 29 April, 2011 includes program and site plan PUBLICATION DATE: 29 April Advertising Booking Deadline: 8 April Editorial Material Deadline: 8 April Advertising Material Deadline: 14 April 2011
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