Canadian hemp producers want their own research agency

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The Farm Products Council of Canada (FPCC) said it will host a public hearing as part of an inquiry into the merits of establishing a hemp promotion and research agency.

The FPCC is expected to announce a hearing date Nov. 23. Once a date is set the Council will meet to determine if the request for a hemp research agency is valid. Their decision is based on several factors including the health of the industry, interest within the sector and the economic viability of the project. The Council will then submit its recommendations to the Canadian Agriculture Minister for consideration.

CHP, CHTA work together

The calls for the research agency were part of a proposal submitted in October 2017 by the Canadian Hemp Producers, with support from the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA). The creation of the agency “is an important step forward in the development of the Canadian industrial hemp industry,” the groups said. It’s proposed the agency would be funded by levies applied to industrial hemp products marketed domestically, as well as on hemp products imported into Canada.

This idea of a research agency was first raised at the CHTA annual general meeting in 2012 after a motion was passed by the membership. In 2015 hemp producers across Canada were consulted on the idea and subsequent meetings occurred in 2016. Approximately 20% of Canada’s hemp producers attended these meetings and 95% of attendees and other relevant parties polled were in support of the establishment of an agency. All this led to submitting their proposal last year.

Exploring all applications

It’s proposed the Canadian Industrial Hemp Promotion and Research Agency (PRA) will be the focal point to lead research and promotional activities on behalf of producers, farmers, and entrepreneurs. The research will be focused primarily on food, animal feed, fibre, and natural health products, the latter includes natural health remedies, cosmetics, personal care products, extracts and supplements. It’s also suggested such a body is the best to manage the hemp industry as it grows nationally.

Hemp has been legal in Canada since 1998 but until a few months ago farmers were only allowed to harvest stalk and seed. This led to a large hemp seed market in Canada, which exports much of its product to the United States. However, since August producers can collect the flowers, leaves, and branches of the crop during the 2018 harvest after regulations were eased by Health Canada. That clears the way for CBD production, expected to boom over the next few years in Canada.

In a separate initiative, CHTA says it is exploring a research project totaling almost $5 million over the next five years to boost industry standards, explore hemp’s many applications and develop plant genetics. – Brian Houlihan

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