All the producers in North Dakota who grew industrial hemp last year have opted to have Healthy Oilseeds, owned by Roger Gussiaas, Carrington, N.D., process it for the food market.
He will be processing about 80,000 pounds of hemp seed and hopes to extract about 2,000 pounds of oil from the seed and make flour from the leftover meal. He will also mill hemp flour from some of the whole seed and roast some of the seeds. He may also dehull some of the seeds and market the meats.
“I think [industrial hemp] has tremendous potential. It has the great fiber you can use for clothing or paper products, and it’s also a very good oil,” Gussiaas says. “It’s a crop that has so much potential in the Upper Midwest.”
About 25,000 different products are being made from industrial hemp.
Approximately 400,000 acres of industrial hemp are grown globally, and the United States consumes 200,000 of those acres.
“It has the ability to be another crop in the cropping system,” says North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “It all depends on how much the value chain wants to use it and where they want to use it. I think it has a lot of potential.”
“Hemp is one of the only foods in the world that is high in protein, but also has the same amino acids as meat, so it’s very nutritious,” says Clarence Laub II, one of the five farmers who were licensed to grow industrial hemp this year.
He plans to market his crop as oil and flour with his own label at a store in Bismarck and through other venues.
NDDA hopes to continue the program next year, provided there’s enough money in the budget. Growers had to follow regulations established by NDDA. Anyone handling the crop on the farm had to have a background check and be fingerprinted, and the remaining plant material had to be destroyed.
Industrial hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant species, and differs from other cannabis varieties in its levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical which causes marijuana’s psychological effects. Visually, industrial hemp and other cannabis species look the same.
But with an oil content of 30% to 35%, industrial hemp may find its way into the cropping system.
“I think North Dakota could be a really strong supplier,” Gussiaas says. “I think it could be a really good crop for us.”
Dart writes from Elgin, N.D.