Pubdate: Wed, 07 Feb 2007
Source: Bismarck Tribune (ND)
Copyright: 2007 The Bismarck Tribune
Author: Blake Nicholson, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Hemp)


The first two North Dakota farmers to be licensed to grow industrial 
hemp have different plans for their future crops, assuming the 
federal government allows them to be cultivated.

Dave Monson, of Osnabrock, in northeastern North Dakota, and Wayne 
Hauge, of Ray, in the northwestern corner of the state, on Tuesday 
received the first two licenses issued under new state rules for 
growing the crop.

Hemp can be used to make numerous products, from food to clothing, 
and Monson said he has received calls from potential buyers as far 
away as Taiwan. Monson, who also is a state lawmaker, wants to sell 
both hemp seed and fiber.

"I hope to capitalize on every part of (the plant)," he said. "There 
will be no problem finding a market."

Hauge said he wants to grow and sell registered hemp seed to other farmers.

"I think it's a viable crop," he said. "I think it would work well in 
rotations in both eastern and western North Dakota."

Hemp is a cousin of marijuana and falls under federal anti-drug 
rules, even though it does not produce a high. That means farmers 
licensed by North Dakota to grow hemp must also obtain approval from 
the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which is not certain.

The annual federal registration fee is $2,293. Monson said the 
federal fee to import seed from Canada, where hemp is legally grown, 
would be an additional $1,147, though he and state Agriculture 
Commissioner Roger Johnson said one person could import seed for 
several farmers.

The state license costs a minimum of $202. Monson said with 
licensing, registration and seed expenses, "before you even get out 
of the chute you're looking at $400 an acre (in costs)."

Hemp still can be profitable, Monson said.

"You're looking at $500 an acre for seed and whatever you can get for 
fiber ... $100 per acre for straw would be realistic," he said. 
Organically grown hemp could fetch as much as $900 per acre, Monson said.

If he gets federal permission, Monson plans to seed 10 acres of 
industrial hemp this spring to "test the waters." Hauge plans to grow 
100 acres.

Both farmers also grow other crops, including the more traditional 
wheat and barley. Monson also grows canola, and Hauge last year 
experimented with black beans.

Neither farmer plans to build a fence around his hemp field. A fence 
is not part of the state licensing requirements, though one would be 
needed under federal rules.

"They have this additional crazy requirement that is designed for 
drugs," Johnson said. "Chain-link, razor-wire topped, 10 to 12 feet 
high, 24-hour surveillance."

Johnson has urged the DEA to ease its rules, and plans to meet with 
officials in Washington, D.C., again early next week to "request that 
they work in every way possible with us."

Law enforcement officials worry that industrial hemp crops could 
shield stands of illegal marijuana. Supporters of legalizing hemp 
cultivation say that fear is unfounded.

In a related development, the North Dakota House on Tuesday approved 
legislation that gives North Dakota State University the authority to 
import and resell industrial hemp seed. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The bill is HB1490.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman