Challenges For Hemp Farmers In N.M.'s New Industry

Jan 24, 2020

A lot of eyes are on recreational mairjuana in New Mexico this legislative session. Last year, a bill that regulated Hemp—the non-psychoactive strain of the cannabis plant—was signed into law. Hemp can be used to make thousands of products, like clothes, paper, biofuel and CBD oil. Farmers and advocates spoke about the burgeoning industry at the Roundhouse Thursday, Jan. 23.

Torrance County hemp farmer, Aaron Diaz, with the Campo de Oro family farm spoke in the capital’s Rotunda, saying in his first year, he learned by getting his hands dirty and by collaborating with others in the industry. "Just like our chile crops, our pecan crops, beans out of the Estancia valley, we have world-renowned crops, and hemp can be that crop," he said.

Farmers at this point are waiting for processors and manufacturers to be ready to buy their product, according to Jill Browning, chairwoman of the New Mexico Hemp Association. "The Hemp Industry as a whole, it’s a baby," she said. "And there’s so much we have to build infrastructure-wise that is going to help the farmer.”

The state’s farmers also need information about everything from securing good and legal seeds to weeding correctly, Browning said, because those are new considerations for people with experience in other crops, like corn and alfalfa.

The Hemp Association will soon embark on an 11-city tour with an aim of educating farmers on this new industry.

*****

This story is part of the project: Your N.M. Government. Funding for our legislative coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the New Mexico Local News Fund and KUNM listeners.