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Industry groups survey growers about creating hemp checkoff program

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As the hemp industry trends upward and the growth of its products are no longer relegated to side conversations, the National Industrial Hemp Council and Hemp Industries Association worked together to survey hemp growers about their attitudes toward a hemp checkoff program. Nearly eight out of every 10 farmers and processors support the checkoff program for research, promotion, and consumer education. Meanwhile, over six of 10 farmers and processors support being assessed to fund a program.

USDA checkoff programs seek to promote farm commodities and expand market opportunity for farmers, importers, and industry stakeholders. Funded through assessments on the produced commodity at the first point of sale; checkoff programs allow producers of commodities to pool resources for research, education, and promotion efforts that can expand sales and improve production efficiencies.

Currently, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) oversees 23 checkoff programs for various commodities ranging from cotton to pork to Christmas trees. A study in 2018 by Texas A&M found that the existing 23 checkoffs had a return on investment for farmers and ranchers ranging from three to seventeen dollars in value that came back to the producers for every checkoff dollar invested.

“It’s clear from the survey response that there is a broad level of excitement around the idea of a national hemp checkoff program, and significant interest in the potential return the hemp industry could see from an effective research and marketing program under USDA,” said HIA President Rick Trojan. “We in the industry recognize the incredible potential of this agricultural commodity, and there was a strong consensus around the importance of educating the market about the value of hemp across the supply chain for food/grain, fiber, and cannabinoids. It’s encouraging to see the positive feedback this dialogu e with the industry has generated so far and we look forward to continuing to partner with the NIHC and other forward-looking allies to explore the tremendous opportunity a national checkoff represents for hemp.”

The NIHC and HIA are now working to form a Task Force of representatives from across the industry that would discuss the details of how a hemp checkoff would be structured and operate. The effort of the working group would guide the development of a proposal to submit to the USDA that will include an industry analysis; justification for the program; program objectives; and the impact on small businesses.

The survey received 270 responses and was conducted online via Survey Monkey from November 30, 2020 until December 31, 2020.

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