HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Farmers Planning Hemp Factory
Pubdate: Mon, 09 Feb 2004
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2004 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: James Low
Bookmark: (Hemp - Outside U.S.)


Dauphin Group Hopes To Build This Summer

A group of farmers is hoping to build Manitoba's first hemp processing 
plant in Dauphin.

Construction of the $15-million plant, which would turn hemp fibres into 
products such as insulation, has been five years in the making, but 
hopefully ground can be broken this summer, said Joe Federowich, chairman 
of the Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers Co-op.

Federowich said the Manitoba government was on board fairly quickly, but 
the federal government was slower to react.

But he said recently "the doors have swung wide open" since a new 
administration in Ottawa began to look at the future blueprint for agriculture.

"I think the federal government is now showing a real commitment," he said. 
"They want to see farmers take local initiative."

"We've been doing our homework," he said. Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers 
Co-op, a group of 59 farmers, went to work on a sustainable business plan 
in the fall of 2000.

The proposed processing plant would give local hemp farmers a place to 
bring their crop. The hemp, which is a drug-free marijuana with almost no 
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol -- the cannabis narcotic), would be turned into 
fibre and sold on the open market.

Federowich said a business prospectus should be finished in a month's time.

Rey Pagtakhan, minister of Western Economic Diversification, said the 
Dauphin plant is being considered for federal funding.

"It looks like an exciting opportunity and we take it very seriously."

Federowich hopes Dauphin can be the hemp capital of Canada. "Our target 
goal is not just one facility," he said, noting the goal is to build 
similar plants every 100 to 200 miles.

"Once you build the first one and it's up and running and proving itself, 
others will be built quite quickly."

Federowich said the economic spinoffs for the Dauphin-area would mean up to 
25 jobs for the community, not including people needed to haul the crop to 
and from the plant.

He said the project is crucial for hemp farmers in rural communities 
struggling to make ends meet. "Our rural communities are dying a slow death 
and this may breathe new life into them."

The RM of Dauphin and City of Dauphin continue to support the project 100 
per cent, said Dauphin Mayor Alex Paul.
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