A group of keen hemp producers, processors and industry supporters shuffled into the Breakfast Creek Hotel in Brisbane on Wednesday night to officially form Queensland’s first representative hemp growers association in what is a major step for the State’s industry.
Unofficially known as iHemp Queensland, the body is the final member to join the Australian Hemp Council (AHC), a seven member organisation with representatives from each state and the Northern Territory.
The group is distinctive to other hemp organisations as it exclusively represents the industry’s growers and processors
The national body wants to give producers a national unified presence and voice when communicating with government and community.
AHC national president and Tasmanian representative Tim Schmidt baptised the organisation passing a motion for Lauchlan Grout to represent the Queensland arm as the interim president until official nominations take place next month.
Mr Schmidt outlined the need for a distinctive growers group to represent farmers involved in hemp production.
“The purpose of the organisation is to be specifically grower and producer funded group to help pull the industry together and have a clear voice dealing with issues that are specific to growers,” Mr Schmidt said.
“This is important because this is the part of the industry that is actually generating revenue and we need to do get ourselves organised as growers so that we can work as point of engagement with organisations such as AgriFutures.
“The state industry needs to have a combined voice, and currently there is no voice. Hemp is like any other industry – you need a combined consensus to legitimise and grow the industry.”
“It gives a legitimacy and professionalism to the industry and gives Queensland growers and processors a position of strength.”
Mr Grout said Queensland’s potential in industrial hemp is greater than other states.
“Queensland has three growing cycles in the one year, that means we have more opportunity than the rest of Australia,” he said.
“It gives Queensland a competitive advantage.
“In the last few years the industry has significantly developed, everyone inside the industry know where they stand. Now, more focus can be put on improving the supply chain rather than being first to cross the line.”
Mr Schmidt said by organising Australian young hemp industry, Australian hemp product can begin to be competitive internationally.
“Right now Australia is far behind internationally, but with targeted research we can begin to establish ourselves as internationally competitive,” he said.
Mr Schmidt outlined the councils main objectives as:
- Maintaining industry and product integrity, including calling out import dumping.
- Provide industry guidance on research assistance
- Establish a national seed certification system
- Lobby government for standardisation of state legislation and nationally ease restrictions on the Australian industrial hemp industry
- Provide a communication and network facility for the industry, including collation of industry data.
Written by: James McManagan