Agriculture is Alabama’s leading industry and with more than 9 million acres of farmland, and nearly 50,000 Alabama farms, the regulations that farmers face play a significant effect on Alabama’s economy.
Therefore, it is important that we provide Alabama farmers with the means to be successful, but with the push for renewable energies and green technologies the future of the Alabama Farmer includes the production of usable fiber.
Once elected, I will sponsor legislation that will allow farmers to grow hemp to be used in the production of textiles, biofuels and other beneficial products, giving them a viable cash crop that is less expensive to produce and more ecologically friendly than other crops.
Hemp had been a part of our history dating back to Washington and Jefferson, who both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and U.S. farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.
The production of hemp was halted in the US with passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, which made all variations of the cannabis plant illegal in the U.S.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not recognize the value of industrial hemp and permit its production. Currently, over thirty countries produce industrial hemp, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.
Hemp can be grown organically. Only eight, out of about one hundred known pests, cause problems, and hemp is most often grown without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. Hemp is also a natural weed suppressor due to fast growth of the canopy.
Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper.
Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard. No additional resins are required due to naturally-occurring lignins.
Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with hemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil, to name a very few examples. Over two million cars on the road today have hemp composite parts for door panels, dashboards, luggage racks, etc.
This will allow the Alabama Farmer to move into the future and insure a healthy farm economy for all Alabamians.