Canada’s hemp farmers suggest tax to fund national promotion, research

Canada’s hemp farmers suggest tax to fund national promotion, research

Some Canadian hemp farmers want to see their country capitalize on hemp’s trendiness by starting an agency to promote the plant’s health benefits and research better ways to grow it.

The farmers want to tax their hemp sales at 0.5%, with the money going to fund promotions and research, similar to commodity checkoff programs commonly used in the United States.

The Farm Products Council of Canada has agreed to consider the proposal at a hearing in January. Written opinions are due Nov. 24.

If the growers make a good case, the Farm Products Council could recommend the hemp checkoff, better known in Canada as a levy, to Canada’s Minister of Agriculture. A federal Cabinet would make the final decision.

Jason Green, head of agriculture for Ontario-based Canopy Growth, is among the pro-tax farmers.

“This permission … will allow hemp producers to use the 2018 crop to learn more about harvesting, drying and storing whole plant material,” Green said in a statement.

Don Dewar, who has grown hemp off and on for about 20 years in Dauphin, Manitoba, told Hemp Industry Daily that the nascent hemp industry needs to promote hemp food products while the trend is hot.

“We need the demand to increase, and to do that, we need research into the food side,” he said.

“I’d rather grow hemp than wheat; wheat doesn’t make you any money. What we want to do is spend a little money on the research and promotion so we can keep the hemp prices up.”

Dewar is uncertain how much money the hemp tax would produce in a country that grew roughly 138,000 acres of hemp in 2018, almost all of it for seed.

The ad hoc pro-tax hemp group has the support of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance but isn’t being promoted by the trade group, Dewar said.

Not all hemp farmers in Canada back the idea; some fear the levy could cut into profits.

But Dewar hopes to persuade the Farm Products Council that Canada needs to enhance hemp support to distinguish the crop from marijuana – especially now that recreational MJ is legal.

Hemp growers would eventually like to be regulated by Canada’s Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, not Health Canada, which regulates all cannabis now.

“We have spent 20 years trying to divorce hemp from marijuana, and not successfully,” Dewar said. “People still joke about us growing hemp and smoking our crop.”

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