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For Immediate Release
Monday, June 12, 2006

Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671

U.S. Businesses Back Return of
Industrial Hemp Farming
Interest Grows as States Take Action to Grow Hemp in 2007

WASHINGTON, DCNorth Dakota and California are in a race to be the first state in the U.S. to commercially grow industrial hemp since Wisconsin grew the last hemp crop nearly 50 years ago. This week, each state will conduct important public hearings on the subject. The California Senate Public Safety Committee holds a hearing Tuesday, June 13, 2006 on AB 1147, a bill that would affirmatively grant farmers the right to grow industrial hemp to produce seed and fiber, while North Dakota's Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson holds a public hearing on Thursday, June 15, 2006 about rules expected to be finalized later this year that would license farmers to grow hemp under existing state law.

The hearings are taking place in the shadow of Canadian hemp farming which has seen steady growth over the last six years. This year, Canada is expected to grow a record 40,000 acres of industrial hemp. Nevertheless, rumors persist that the demand for hemp seed from U.S. food producers — whose sales are growing 50% each year — will create shortages before harvest again this summer, forcing buyers to go to Europe or China for seed. "American farmers are tired of looking around the world and seeing other farmers making healthy profits growing hemp for export to the U.S. They want change," says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra.

Support for state action on industrial hemp farming is growing among U.S. manufacturers whose appetite for hemp fiber, seed and oil is fueling the increased demand. For example, in the automotive industry, industrial hemp is used in the natural fiber composites that have rapidly replaced fiberglass as the material of choice for vehicle interiors. FlexForm, an Indiana manufacturer whose hemp-content materials are found in an estimated 2.5 million vehicles in North America today, uses approximately 250,000 pounds of hemp fiber per year. The company says industrial hemp could easily take a greater share of the 4 million pounds of natural fiber it uses yearly, as "hemp fiber possesses physical properties beneficial to our natural fiber-based composites." In addition, FlexForm says it would "gladly expand domestic purchases."

Patagonia, an environmentally conscious outdoor clothing manufacturer and retailer that sells hemp clothing at Whole Foods, has recently agreed to add its name to the list of businesses that support California's hemp bill. That list already includes Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps (North America's top-selling natural soap company), Alterna (a high-end salon hair products company) and Nutiva (a rising star among innovative health food companies).

Sales of hemp foods in 2004/2005 grew by 50% over the previous 12-month period. U.S. retail sales of hemp products are estimated to now be $250 to $300 million per year. European farmers now grow more than 40,000 acres of hemp.

Currently seven states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have changed their laws to give farmers an affirmative right to grow industrial hemp commercially or for research purposes. California's AB 1147 already passed the state Assembly in January and is expected to be voted on in the state Senate before August. Both the California and North Dakota plans for hemp farming require that planted hemp contain less than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which ensures no impact on drug testing and no psychoactive effect. North Dakota also prescribes criminal background checks, sets standards on the minimum acreage, and requires reporting of the location of hemp fields to law enforcement.

More information about industrial hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at and




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