Indiana: Elkhart Manufacturer Pushes For Hemp Legalization
By Derrick Stanley
An Elkhart manufacturing CEO says if it was legal to grow hemp in Indiana, it would create substantial savings in an industry where "pennies count."
During an interview with Inside INdiana Business, FlexForm Technologies Chief Executive Officer Gregg Baumbaugh said his company has to import hemp from Europe. FlexForm uses non-woven natural fibers to produce components that become mats and panel products for the automotive and aerospace industries because hemp fibers result in products that are lighter, stronger and more impact-resistant than wood or fiberglass alternatives.
Baumbaugh says his company uses up to 80,000 pounds of material each week, and that growing hemp locally could save at least $5,000 per 42,000 pounds of material compared to importing.
A federal law signed by President Obama in 2014 allows institutions of higher education and state departments of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp. Nineteen states, including Indiana, have established laws that provide for hemp pilot studies.
Purdue University has taken a leading role in researching how to grow and harvest hemp effectively. Last year, Purdue University Assistant Dean Ron Turco said he believed commercial growth would eventually be part of the state’s economic future.
Even though hemp has been banned since the late 1930s, the 2014 Federal Farm Bill did clear the way for research-based growth.