North Carolina: Industrial Hemp May Replace Tobacco As Cash Crop
By Michael Bachara
In North Carolina this summer, farmers are experimenting with industrial hemp as a potential cash crop as an option to replace tobacco.
On Monday, Jay Foushee, a fourth-generation farmer, planted more than 6,000 industrial hemp plants. In 2014, a change in the law made the agricultural production of industrial hemp a reality.
"We call it Carolina Gold," Foushee said. "The potential income we can make on this crop is more than we can make on grain right now."
In Person County, Calvin Whitfield is spearheading a hemp farming effort. "Hopefully, we will take our model here, and we will grow it through our community to help other farmers," Whitfield said. "This is an economically rewarding crop in the end, much more so than tobacco is. That's our whole goal, to increase profitability on the local farm."
Proponents say industrial hemp can be used to manufacture everything from fiber for clothing, to oil to replace petroleum.
"If the regulations would loosen up and realize that there's really no threat here and (hemp) really should be treated like tomatoes, then the industry will grow like it could and should," Carolina Hemp Co's Brian Morris said. "Twenty-five-thousand different products that are all environmentally friendly, so, I mean, you can't ask for a better, more productive plant."
The farm, which planted a half-dozen cultivars in an experiment to conclude what types grow best in North Carolina's climate, believes many jobs will be created in the state from the processing of the plant.
The industrial hemp crop will be harvested in September.
Photo Source: WLOS