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TAS Country : January 13th 2012
6 Tasmanian Country Friday, January 13, 2012 Opinion TFGA P +61 (03) 9368 8888 W ww w.pfgaustralia.com *Requires a minimum of 1/3rd Deposit/Trade followed by 6 Half Yearly. Repayments over Maximum 3 Years. Standard Loan Documentation, Fees & Lending Criteria Applies. Alternative finance structures are also available, please speak to your local Simba dealer and tailor a package to suit your needs. Picture for illustration purposes only. Conditions apply. • Easy front and rear disc depth adjustment provides even more flexibility to suit different conditions and applications. • The pro-active disc units give improved protection against stone damage. • Mounted individually, the cultivation discs are 500mm in diameter. The disc spacing is 250mm on both front and rear gangs, giving net disc spacing between the gangs of 125mm. 6.50%* p.a. SPECIAL FINANCE THE XPRESS XCELS XPRESS WITH CAGE ROLLER ONLY $26,400 INC GST FLEXIBLE HIGH-SPEED ONE PASS CULTIVATOR FLEXIBLE HIGH-SPEED ONE PASS CULTIVATOR Hemp ban is just plain dopey TFGA matters with Jan Davis VERSATILE: Hemp has many uses. I CAN'T believe the level of ignorance there is about industrial hemp. We suggest relaxing the guidelines for growing hemp for industrial pur- poses and it seems a lot of people -- including some who should be much better informed -- think we are suggest- ing farmers want a piece of the illicit drug trade. It is time for some facts. Hemp and humankind have co- existed for 10,000 years. In fact, hemp was the world's most valuable traded crop up until the 1900s. And we weren't smoking it; we were using it for textiles, food, paper, deter- gents, building materials, and tying each other up. Hemp fibre is long, strong and durable. You don't need chemicals, pesticides or herbicides to grow it. You can grow it on rotation with other crops, including vegetables. It produces four times as much fibre per hectare as pine trees. Paper made from hemp can be recycled up to seven times. The seed and seed oil from the plant are high in protein, essential amino acids and vitamins. Hemp is not the same thing as marijuana. Yes, they both belong to the genus cannabis, but the marijuana variant is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, while industrial hemp is low in THC. No matter how much you smoke, you won't get high on hemp. In short, hemp is good for us, good for the soil and good for the economy. It is also ideally suited to our Tasmanian soils and climate and fits well with our clean and green ethos. We have been successfully growing small-scale crops on a trial basis for many years. Yet there are significant regulatory hurdles to commercialising this crop. The licence requirements for grow- ing hemp in Tasmania are stricter than those anywhere else in the world and are certainly much tougher than the ones growers on the mainland must comply with. This makes any expansion of this potentially important crop commer- cially unviable. Tasmanian farmers are not asking for a free hand in growing hemp. We recognise there are sensitivities around growing this crop and we accept that growers have to be licensed, even though hemp is not a poison or a drug. It's the extremely strict con- ditions of the licensing that we are talking about. The particular regulat- ory constraints on growing hemp here include: The THC content can be no more than 0.1 per cent, yet it is 1.0 per cent in mainland states. Paddocks where hemp is grown have to be out of sight of roads and more than 5km from schools or other public buildings, a demand made diffi- cult by Tasmania's topography, farm size and the fact the crop is rotational. Licensing and security require- ments that apply to both growers and landowners, making it difficult to grow on leased land. These regulatory requirements are actually even stricter than those for growing opium poppies, yet hemp is not a drug or a poison. When pushed, regulators come up with a number of reasons that simply don't stack up. They say dope dealers will grow their crops in the middle of hemp plantations. No dope dealer who knows anything about the cultivation of the crop would do that because cross-pollination would reduce the potency of the marijuana. Hemp plantations have to be licensed and can be subject to spot-checks by the police or other regulatory agencies. I wouldn't think dope dealers would be too happy at the prospect of having police clomping around their crops either. The other bad news for anyone growing an illegal crop is that there are now satellites flying over Tasmania on a regular basis taking infra-red pic- tures of the state. It is possible to identify crops, including marijuana, by their unique infra-red ''fingerprints'', so anyone with access to these materials can easily spot them. These regulations simply don't make any sense. In Tasmania, we have made our name growing the highest quality industrial crops. Our poppy and pyrethrum indus- tries lead the world. And there is every indication that the Government under- stands that. Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne is on the record as saying ''low-THC cannabis would only be grown under similar licence arrangements to those for Tasmania's thriving $100 million poppy industry''. We couldn't agree more. But if hemp is to become the next poppy or pyrethrum industry in Tas- mania, the regulations inhibiting com- mercial production have to be relaxed. We're not asking for them to be removed. We're simply asking that the rules for growing hemp be brought into line with the rules for growing opium poppies. It is a no-brainer.
January 5th 2012
January 26th 2012