Volume 3, Issue 17, Summer 2001 ISSN 1498-8135
BioHemp Ltd. Consulting & Research.
Jason Freeman. Tel: 306-546-2508, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cross Canada 2001
A change in emphasis.
At first glance, it might seem that the Canadian hemp industry is stagnating. Production is markedly, with many growers choosing not to plant this year. A rough estimate is that total production is between 3000-4000 acres. Hemp fields being somewhat hard to find, this figure could be much lower.
Large inventories of grain plus uncertainties about market access to the US are strong reasons not to grow hemp. A lack of fibre processing infrastructure in many regions is keeping acreage down. Farmers are also unwilling to finance someone else's production, so without strong contracts in place, many producers are taking the year off of hemp.
Growing hemp is not a lightly taken consideration. In 1998, according to Manitoba Agriculture, estimated costs of production on the Prairies were set in the $320 range per acre. A break even price then depends on 35 cents a pound, given an average yield of 800 lbs. per acre. Happily, prices are supporting this threshold: $0.80-1.00 CDN for organic seed, $0.45 -$0.65 cents conventional, $0.45 more normal, and as low as $0.25 cents a pound for two year old seed.
The emphasis in the Canadian hemp industry has changed and is now fixed on building up the markets and developing the needed infrastructure. Hemp is not dead -- it's tooling up.
Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley Hemp has gone through a divorce and a new group by headed up by Mike Lewis has emerged. The Heritage Hemp Grower's Association is growing about 100 acres this year, continuing to work with enzymatic retting of fibre, and proceeding with production on six grain products. The group is also doing certified seed sales and working on a hemp spinning project in PEI. Headed by Chopin Vigor, Annapolis Valley Hemp is holding onto the web site and the Mitzi's Hemp bodycare line.
An outbreak of the hemp munching army worm has also been reported in the Maritimes.
In Quebec, things are tight lipped at Fibrex. After harvesting only 200 hectares of fibre flax last year, the Canada's only flax fibre mill is rumoured to have planted only 50 hectares this year. It is unclear whether the parent company is stepping aside or is just going slow with the project.
Also of interest in Quebec is some developments with switchgrass: REAP-Canada and Dell-Point Technologies have begun pelleting the perennial native grass at an alfalfa pellet plant in Ste. Marthe, Quebec. This switchgrass pellet biofuel system, which uses Dell-Point's proprietary fuel stove, is being touted as an alternative to fossil fuels or using wood pellets. Switchgrass yields an average of 10 tonne/ha can be expected in most areas of North America. "Each tonne of material contains the same energy as 3 barrels of oil, " says Roger Samson, Executive Director, REAP (see http://www.reap.ca).
Ontario is not growing much hemp this year but hemp remains a business in development.
"The number of acres of hemp being grown is not yet a valid indicator of the health of the hemp industry in Ontario," says Louise Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the Ontario Hemp Alliance. " The market is growing and acreage will slowly follow. We are trying to do it right too, working in consensus to develop standards and best practices. This takes time and we could use more help."
Hollingsworth also thinks that hemp has received an good share of luck: other events outside of the industry, such as the softwood lumber dispute and unprecedented growth of the health food sector, are contributing to hemp's growth and future prospects.
"Let's not separate the producer from the market," she says, pointing out a stream of new hemp products from lip balm to iced tea are being sold in more stores, including the 7-11's and Canadian Tires. "And let's not put the cart before the horse. Farmers will grow hemp as soon as sufficient contracts become available."
Ontario fibre processor Hempline has found new interest in hemp fibre in the composite material industry. Kime says that hemp fibres economically compete with fiberglass on a cost basis and also on a strength/weight ratio. Other benefits include reduced weight, ease of recycling, strength and its sound absorbent qualities. Hempline has also come to an agreement with Omni Ventures, a collective of Illinois-based farmers, to process some of their kenaf fibres into a blend with hemp for automobile composites.
See our last issue for the latest news on fibre/grain processor Kenex. However, the Chatham-based processors are rumoured to have a new fibre line in place. (L: Bales of hemp, stacked up at Kenex for future use)
Hempola Valley farms is heading into its second season of operation. The farm, north of Barrie, Ontario, is expected to continue growing as a tourist attraction and education magnet. Hempola is holding an "open field" in August 2001. (See http://www.hempreport.com/events.html)
Researcher Gordon Scheifele is evaluating feral hemp at Thunder Bay and Kemptville and a study on the northern adaptation of Anka in northern Ontario. " We will be looking at any measurable adaption for yield, amino acid and fatty acid shifts," he says. Another wild hemp trial is in the Peterborough, Ontario, region (John Baker). Agriculture Canada has another a breeding project (feral?) in up in Kapuskasing.
Hemp Seed Derivatives, Hemp Grain Products, Fiber/Core Products,
Certified Seed Sales, Breeding and Seed Production
Contact Ron Miller, email@example.com, KENEX LTD., 24907 Winter Line Road RR #8, Chatham ONTARIO, CANADA N7M 5J8. Tel: 519-351-9922, Fax: 519-351-6122
The great Canadian grain surplus, over 2000 tonnes, from previous years of production are a compelling reason not to plant much hemp this year. Winnipeg-based processors Fresh Hemp Foods and Hemp Oil Canada have reportedly opted out from contracting fresh production this year, as has Toronto's R&D Hemp. However, the Keystone Province is still Canada's first province of hemp. According to Manitoba Agriculture, about 1500 acres of industrial hemp has been planted this year with most in the Dauphin region and for dual purpose.
However, fibre interest keeps getting higher. The first fibre processor in Western Canada -- ErosionControlBlanket.com -- opened this year. (Click here for the story in this issue.)
"Board members of the 200 member strong Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers have travelled to Europe over 2000-2001, shopping for a fibre processing system for a Dauphin-based facility. Parkland is expected to make an announcement soon, joining Winnipeg's ErosionControlBlanket.com as Manitoba-based fibre processors. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: As we go to web, PIHG has announced plans for a $15 million facility, financed in part by local investment. The fibre facility will process fibres for matting, insulation, and for the paper/cardboard recycling industry. It is estimated that 60 to 80 jobs would be created. Construction of the plant could begin as early as this fall, however, as Parkland Chair Joe Federowich said to the Dauphin Herald: "We need to make sure this is set up properly."
The high profile Prairie Pulp and Paper is continuing with research on their alternative fibre project. The mill plans to use straw from oats, flax, wheat and hemp for their large scale mill. The group, headed in part by Canadian Alliance co-chairman Clayton Manness, and bolstered by actor and activist Woody Harrelson, is on a go slow schedule, having to deal with issues ranging from technical aspects, to markets study as well as raising the capital they need for the ambitious (Hundreds of million$) mill. In a recent article in the Winnipeg Free Press, Manness said the group is looking towards a three year schedule for the mill to become reality. Understandably, Manness is likely preoccupied with events around his day job.
Proponents of large scale agfibre processing have also been watching the saga Elie's Isobord. The plant -- a $140 million investment -- opened in the fall of 1998, and began manufacturing (wheat) strawboard with a patented process. Despite burgeoning market demand -- buyers include mega retailer Home Depot which has committed to going Old Growth Free and want more alternatives to wood products in their stores -- slower-than-anticipated production has caused the red ink to well up, over $100 million according to one estimate. Forced to receive bankruptcy protection, the plant was saved in March 2001 by Dow Chemical, a supplier of the polyurethane resin used in the Isobord process. With the deep pockets of parents Dow (NYSE: DOW) in the background, the plant is expected to survive, following a final agreement being hammered out.
One of Isobord's investors is Farm Credit Canada, a federally-run, financial services corporation, which holds the $10 million mortgage on the plant facility. FCC has recently amended their constitution to cover all farm-related businesses positioned either on the input or output side of primary production. Originally FCC had limited itself to loans to businesses with majority primary producer ownership. FCC believes expanding its scope will help stimulate a stronger value-added sector and more jobs and economic growth in rural communities. Farmers will remain a focus of the FCC. (See www.fcc-sca.ca) and money remains available for new infrastructure.
Sask's Gen-X Research has contracted about 850 acres with two dozen farmers this year. The majority of this production is certified organic; all of it is the Finola oilseed. Most of this production extend in an arc that swings up from south west Manitoba to Alberta's Grande Prairie region -- corresponding with the dark brown to black soil soil zones.
All of this production is for grain, though Saskatchewan is increasingly keen on the fibre side of the hemp equation. Cargill's Durafibre has made strides with flax processing and is very interested in the fibre potential for hemp. Wallace Construction in Saskatoon is interested in working on hemp fibres as a replacement for insulation; and the Saskatchewan Research Council is reportedly quite impressed with the performance of hemp stalks in their laboratory experiments with ethanol to date. Given the new premier of Saskatchewan's stated commitment to rebuilding the rural economy through agri-value industries, the usage of hemp in renewable industries is a reasonable alternative.
Also of interest in Saskatchewan is Extropian Agroforestry Ventures who have committed to 100 acres of hemp in the ground, linking basic farm production and Agroforestry (growing crops and trees intensively in narrow alternating strips) with new crop development and value-added processing. Agroforestry began with the planting of buffaloberry as shelterbelts ten years ago. Extropian combines production with processing to create the Lifestream bar, a functional food that includes a number of selected food ingredients, combining several ingredients including buffaloberry fruit, flax, buckwheat, cranberries, and hemp oil.
"There is a substantial and growing body of basic and clinical research data to support the use of food in medicine, " says Extropian's Director Morris Johnson." At one time it was called 'Food Combining'."
Alberta-based Jim Storch is another grower who has seized upon the possibilities of farmer-directed value-added production. Growing 40 acres this year of Fasamo, he says that 3/4 of his crop has already been sold. Storch is selling some of his production to the Farmer's Company of Edmonton Alberta and is developing his own confectionery snack line. Storch is planning a field day for August (see http://www.hempreport.com/events.html for more).
On the Left coast, the Gitsegukla Band is continuing with their research in NW BC, and have planted again -- 35 acres.
(Dave Ryan heads up the hemp research in NW BC; photo courtesy of Westhemp)
Hemp keeps on creeping north. Hempstore owner Jort Brouwer
(Top of the World hemp) has planted 10 acres of Finola near Whitehorse -- the Northern Territory's first hemp crop.
Off the field, Vancouver's Canadian Hemp Corp. is in the process of filing as an over-the-counter stock with the NASDAQ exchange and is expecting to start trading publicly in by Fall 2001. "We will be raising six million dollars" says President Rick Plotnikoff. According to Plotnikoff the company with a large US company that will be buying on an exclusive basis all CHC hemp oil. He is bullish about prospects of future sales. Canadian Hemp Corp. initially looked at setting up a processing plant in Chilliwack BC, but did not commit to the project at that time.
Another project seeking venture capital is the California-based Earth Pulp and Paper. " The key to marketing hemp products is processing facilities, " says EPP's John Stahl." It may be true that you can make 25,000 products from the hemp plant, but until someone starts making some of those products, there is not going to be much of a market for raw hemp stalks or seed." Using Ukrainian developed technology (the New World Pulper), Stahl says his mini mill system can process 15 tons of fibre (whole stalks/ag waste) per day at cost of roughly $300 USD per ton, allowing pulp to enter the marketplace at a profit of $700 per ton, considerably undercutting existing hemp pulp imports from Europe (see www.tree.org/epp.htm for more info).
Technology transfer is stepping up. The Alberta Research Council (ARC) (who are doing their own research on hemp pulping for an undisclosed client) and Delta BC's Natural Fibres Canada Corporation hosted an April meeting with Canadian and German interests, including Dr. Michael Karus of the nova Institute. The session looked at crop production, fibre processing and applications. Another group headed by Dr. Christian Fuerll of the Institute of Agricultural Engineering (ATB) Potsdam, Germany recently had a short tour on Ontario. Dr. C. Fuerll and his colleagues have developed a ret-free post harvest separation technology for green fibres suitable for flax and hemp. This process incorporates efficiencies that potentially will lower the cost of these fibres for industries such as building materials, composites, and pulp and paper. Test processing of these fibres will be done in Canada this year.
HMG Sales and Marketing Inc.markets and distributes a wide range of certified organic ingredients including hempseed oil, dehulled hempseed, toasted hempseeds, as well as Canada's first certified organic line of products named Mum's Original which is sold in over 250 locations in North America. Contact Martine Carlina, Tel: 306-337-4367, Fax: 306-337-4368 email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.hempmanagement.com.
NOTICES & PSA's
A Yugoslavian delegation is trying to organise a short tour of Canada this September. The group is interested in hemp research, production and processing. Contact Dr. Janos Berenji of the Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops at berenji@EUnet.yu .
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Hemp Survey, 2000: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is conducting a survey of Canadian Hemp Growers and Processors. The purpose of this short, company confidential, questionnaire is to track developments to date and to invite input as to the proper role of the provincial and federal levels of government. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is awaiting the return of completed surveys sent out last month and is counting on our collaboration to help prepare its final industry report. For more information or to return completed surveys, contact Samer Abboud at Tel::(613)759-6463 or ABBOUDS@EM.AGR.CA
OPERATION DITCHWEED- 2001
Wild hemp will be fully seeded by mid September -- If you know where the wild hemp grows, please collect all you can before the birds get them, dry a few days and freeze. Make a few notes and hang on -- DO NOT MAIL FERAL HEMP SEEDS -- but send a note here that you have fresh pro bono wild hemp seed (email@example.com). We will happily put you in touch with a licensed Canadian breeding project. Better hemp through better breeding - A righteous handful of ditchweed seeds would make a big difference. Feral hempseed people are good people. Special thanks to Beaver at Cool Hemp, Killaloe Community Radio, Natural Hemphasis, Ontario Provincial Police, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for their valuable assistance.
For feral hemp background information click here.
Having a hemp field day? Let us know... . Want to go see a hemp field this summer? See www.hempreport.com/events.html
Hemp Report Exclusive! - Hemp Field Photo Suite: From Seeding to Baling
Click on the combine below to enter.
All pictures © 1999 and courtesy of Kreg Alde, Rio Grande, Alberta.
Fedrina 74 Seed from Kenex in Ontario
Seeded on May 27,
1999 Flexi-coil Slim 50 Air Seeder
Seeding rate: 25 lbs/ac
Seeding depth: ? inch
Conclusions: Fedrina 74 too late of a variety.
Earlier seeding may of helped
Did well considering dry conditions
Went through 2 frosts - May & July
Lygus bug infestation
Poor seed yield
Combining was not a problem
Harvested too dry
Cleaning seed difficult
Swathing was a challenge: swath wouldn't fit through throat of swather
Baling was not a problem
Will be using earlier variety for 2000
Questions about these photos? Email Kreg Alde at: Kreg.Alde@gov.ab.ca
The Saskatchewan Hemp Association, represents growers, processors and marketers across western Canada.
Contact: Duane Phillippi, Tel: 306-757-4367, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
web site: www.saskhemp.com coming soon!
Canadian Regulatory Update:
In April Hemp received a wee boost from Ottawa and was declared GST exempt. The change normalized hemp and gives industrial hemp the same tax status as other seeds and primary farm products such as fodder and straw.
Health Canada is preparing a new draft of the Industrial Hemp regulations. These are expected to be published in the Canada Gazette (see http://canada.gc.ca/gazette) by the end of July. Speculation about new proposed regulations include clauses about volunteers, the status and disposal of "hemp dust", and a new, lower level of allowable THC in hemp grain and derivatives.
Correction: These are not new regulations, but a 'Proposal to Review the Existing Regulatory Framework for the Commercial Cultivation of Industrial Hemp'.
The Notice Reads (in part): The Drug Strategy and Controlled Substances Programme of Health Canada intends to evaluate the Industrial Hemp Regulations with a view to amending the Regulations and modifying the program, if necessary. All interested stakeholders are invited to submit written comments on the existing regulatory framework. An additional opportunity for comments will be provided when proposed amendments to the Regulations are published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in the year 2002.
The Canada Gazette, 28 July 2001; can be viewed in HTML at: http://canada.gc.ca/gazette/part1/ascII/g1-13530_e.txt or you can download it in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format at: http://canada.gc.ca/gazette/part1/pdf/g1-13530.pdf.
Comments may be sent to: Niels Hansen-Trip, Co-ordinator, Industrial Hemp Program Post Implementation Review, Office of Controlled Substances, Drug Strategy and Controlled Substances Programme, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Address Locator 3502A, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 1B9, or by electronic mail at: Hemp_BdsTpd@hc-sc.gc.ca. Comments must be received by September 14, 2001, in order to be considered during this review.
Health Canada is also making changes to food labeling laws, all of which will have some positive impact on the marketing of hemp. The changes, published in the Canada Gazette in June, include improved nutrition information for the labelling of prepackaged foods, and regulations on nutrient content claims (claims such as "high fibre" or "fat free) will be allowed as will specific health claims. A final draft based on public input, will be made available in mid-September and then passed into law.
On a parallel track Natural Health Product Guidelines under development will also have some impact on the marketing of nutraceuticals in this country. One parallel of interest to the Hemp Industry is the requirement for natural products to be tested by a qualified laboratory in the country of origin, ala the "reverse embargo". However, the Natural Products Regulations, also include a mission statement (which could be a useful thing for Hemp Regulations to borrow) and a commitment to Good Manufacturing Practises.
Hemp as a Feed for Ruminants
Published by Animal Industry Branch, Manitoba Agriculture and Food, as found at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/livestock/nutrition/bza11s03.html Mustafa et al., Can. J. An. Sci. 79:91. 1999
Hemp is an annual herbaceous plant. Traditionally, hemp is grown as a fiber crop in areas with temperate climates. Hemp seeds are also a valuable commodity. The seed contains 30 to 35% oil, 80% of which is polyunsaturated fatty acids. Hempseed oil can be used in cooking or in industrial products such as paint, detergents and lubricants. As with other oilseeds, mechanical or solvent extraction of hemp seed produces a meal that is high in protein and low in oil, relative to the seed. If an oil-extraction industry is to be economically viable, a market must be found for the residual meal. The relative high fibre of the meal indicates that it may be used most efficiently as a protein supplement for ruminants. Analyses showed that HM contained (on a 100% DM basis) 32% crude protein, 8% ash, 5.2% ether extract, 50% NDF, 39% ADF and 8.8 % soluble protein. The in situ results suggest that HM is highly undegraded in the rumen compared to canola meal and is closer to heat treated canola meal in its rumen degradability characteristics. When substituted for canola meal, as a protein source in isonitrogenous diets (up to 20% of the ration dry matter), HM had no detrimental effects on feed intake or nutrient utilization by sheep. Further studies are required to determine the effects of including HM in beef and dairy rations as an undegradable protein source.
To go back to the Table of Contents, click here.
To go to Part 2, Fibre & Food, click here.
To go to Part 3, America & International,click here.
To go to Part 4, Research, click here.
To go to the Summer Hemp Quiz, click here.
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