THE opportunity for SA growers to apply for a license to cultivate and supply the industrial hemp industry could be a reality by the end of the year, according to Biosecurity SA.
The first of five state-wide public consultation sessions about the proposed draft industrial hemp regulatory framework was held at Mount Gambier on Tuesday.
Biosecurity SA executive director Will Zacharin said the framework was established to form a licensing scheme for growers and processors, and then determine strict conditions for the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp.
He said the sessions were designed to gain grower feedback and decide if regulatory amendments needed to be made.
“Industrial hemp could provide another crop for our broadacre industry and the framework regards hemp cultivation for either the production of seed for use in food or some pharmaceutical products, and also as a fibre,” he said.
“Recent communication revealed we needed to clarify the Industrial Hemp Act 2017 too. People are confused about the difference between industrial hemp, medicinal cannabis and other hemp products.
“Applicants would also need to fit a proper persons test and SA Police would be vetting anyone that applied for a license – there are arrangements about the type of hemp seed that can be used because the psycho-active ingredient in a cannabis plant would need to be less than 1 per cent.”
Southern Mallee graingrower and potato producer Wade Dabinett, who attended the Adelaide hemp session last night, planned to apply for a license to produce hemp seed and capitalise on his centre-pivot irrigation.
“Once the potato crops are harvested there is excess moisture in the soil and we wanted to grow a crop to reduce soil erosion,” he said.
“It could be about 120 hectares to 130ha of irrigated spring crops that we are looking to introduce into our program.
“We believe it could give us a commercial return and make our water and irrigation infrastructure investments worth it.”
Mr Dabinett, who is also chairman of Grain Producers SA, said he attended the session to ensure there was no regulatory burden on SA farmers.
Mackillop Farm Management Group chief executive officer Charlie Crozier registered the group’s interest in participating in hemp production trial work.
He said the industry for growers in the South East could be viable, but data collected at a grassroots level was needed.
“We need information to attempt trials with our eyes wide open, to avoid potential pitfalls for growers when they begin producing it on a commercial level.”
The Office of Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis held Growing Industrial Hemp forums after the Mount Gambier and Adelaide framework sessions, with Ecofibre Industries and Operations managing director Phil Warner, Maleny, Qld.
Information sessions will also be held at Loxton on August 16 and Port Lincoln on August 17, while public feedback closes at 5pm on Friday, August 25.
- Details: pir.sa.gov.au