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Trade group gets funding to promote U.S. hemp abroad

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A national hemp trade group says it has signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will help U.S. hemp companies market their products abroad.

The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service agreed to a one-year cost-sharing agreement with the National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) and individual hemp companies, NIHC told HempGrower.com.

Research & marketing

The USDA is providing $200,000 to promote U.S. hemp abroad through research and marketing of products and brands, NIHC said. The group said it will initially target Asian and European markets.

“It’s an opportunity to compete internationally as being one of the leading agricultural countries in the world,” said Kevin Latner, NIHC’s senior vice president for trade, who also serves on USDA’s Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on specific agricultural products.

Who is NIHC

NIHC comprises a group of international, federal, state, private industry, and government professionals led by Board Chairman Patrick Atagi, President and CEO of DA Farms, a specialty crop grower in Nyssa, Oregon. He served as Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the United States Department of Agriculture during the George W. Bush administration.

A member-supported organization, NIHC’s mission is to advance market development by helping its members enter the hemp industry and educating consumers about industrial hemp. The group operates based on memberships that range from $60 for consumer grassroots advocates, to $30,000 for companies whose turnover is more than $10 million.

Under the agreement expected this week, the NIHC must contribute a minimum 10% match on the dollars it receives. The Food Export Association of the Midwest USA, a non-profit that promotes food and agricultural products, is to distribute funding to individual companies.

Support for companies

NIHC said it will support individual hemp companies who get funding to market their internationally under the agreement. Those funds can be used to attend international trade shows and other activities aimed at finding buyers. Cost sharing with individual companies is at the rate of 50-50.

China agreed to purchase an unspecified amount of hemp fiber from the United States in an agriculture trade deal agreed last spring. Hemp is mentioned specifically in the trade agreement, in which the Chinese government agreed to spend at least $12.5 billion more on total U.S. agricultural commodity imports than it did in 2017. But American hemp produces little straw as the market remains focused on CBD.

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