Alaska’s Industrial Hemp Plan Approved By USDA

When you think of hemp farming Alaska may not be the first place that comes to your mind. But Alaska does have what it takes to grow hemp and it could have a good economic future in the state of Alaska. After all, where could you find cleaner water, air, or soil?

The Alaska Division of Agriculture has come up with a plan to actually regulate the production of industrial hemp, as well as to promote the use of industrial hemp within the state. That plan submitted by the Alaska Division of Agriculture has recently been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

Gaining the approval of the USDA is an important step for Alaskan hemp farmers. In essence, it means that Alaska farmers will now be able to diversify their crops and grow a new type of hemp. This new industrial hemp is able to be made into products that use industrial hemp.

David Schade is the agriculture division leader in Alaska. According to him “This is already a more than 2-billion-dollar-a-year industry and that’s (expected) to grow exponentially around the world.”

Even though Alaska can have a difficult climate for growing crops, Mr. Schade is confident hemp farming can be done in Alaska. He points to the fact that some farmers are already successfully cultivating and growing hemp in the state.

There are basically nine farmers located from Fairbanks to Homer who have been able to cultivate hemp on a total of 70 acres of outdoor space. These farmers have also been utilizing up to 14,000 square feet of indoor space for growing hemp. These efforts have been done as part of a pilot project for hemp. 

With the new approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Schade expects the hemp harvest in Alaska to grow. “That really opens up the market to Alaska,” he said. “And of course, you get an Alaska Grown label in the Pacific Rim, that’s going to help sell your product.”

Currently, in Alaska, the most productive hemp-growing farm is located just west of Fairbanks Alaska. It is a family farm that sits near Cripple Creek. This family farm grew approximately 5,000 plants in 2021 on about 6 acres of land. They take a lot of pride in their hemp plants and are proud to say that they are grown using organic methods with no pesticides.

Zoe Quist is a partner in the company Mado CBD. She indicated that the hemp plants would mainly be used to make CBD products.

Quist and her family were all born and raised in the Fairbanks area. While they understand that the CBD market in Alaska is fairly small, they believe they play a bigger role to play.

“We hire local people to work on the farm,” she said. “The money stays in the economy. And we just want to put our products in Alaskans’ hands and just keep it a home-grown operation.”

It’s that kind of pride and dedication to the community that makes it even more special and unique. It’s also that kind of sustainability that Schade and the state of Alaska are trying to promote. 

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