By Steve Elliott
A Southwest Oregon farmer who has been issued the first state permit to grow industrial hemp said he and a nonprofit group of growers and activists plan a 25-acre hemp field this spring.
Edgar Winters of Eagle Point, director of the Oregon Agriculture Food & Rural Consortium, said it's difficult to get seeds, but also expressed optimism, reports Eric Mortenson at Capital Press.
Winters said the group would be ready to warehouse and process the hemp once a crop is harvested in late summer.
"We are in a position to do 40 tons a day at our processing mill,"said Winters, not to be confused with Texas blues rocker Edgar Winter of the Edgar Winter Group. "We've got our ducks in a row."
Importing hempseed requires the approval of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University are working with the DEA on that process.
Winters said a Canadian hemp company, Hemp Textiles International, has "breeders' rights" to its see and will not share their genetics with Oregon growers. Oregon state law requires hempseed produced in Oregon to be replanted.
"We're at a standstill," Winters said, but he added that seeds might be available from Russia, Hungary, Australia or New Zealand.
"We have to import to get started," he said. "We don't want our farmers to sit around another year."