The Western Australian town of Collie, around 200 kilometres south of Perth, might be the future location of a hemp processing plant.
WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray last week announced $35,000 from the Collie Futures Small Grants Program (CFSGP) will go to WA Hemp Growers’ Co-op (HempGro) to develop a business case for the facility, which could service 37 growers across the state.
“The hemp industry is gaining ground in WA – licences have more than doubled over the past two years with 22 sown varieties across the State,” said Minister MacTiernan. “An industrial hemp processing facility in Collie would create jobs as well as present growers with opportunities for diversification in and around the region.”
The jobs aspect will be particularly important for Collie, which has been struggling since the shedding of coal-related employment.
While the facility would be the first in the state to process hemp fibre, one has already been established for processing seed. In March we reported the first processing of hemp seed grown in the state occurred in Margaret River.
HempGro was formally established in April 2018 with support from industry and government and was the nation’s first hemp growers cooperative.
In 2019, WA Hemp Growers’ Co-op received $80,000 in funding under the WA Government’s Industrial Hemp Grant Scheme (IHGS) to research various hemp varieties to determine which will grow best in which region across Western Australia.
“The McGowan Government has been a strong champion for the WA hemp industry, providing more than $435,000 in grants over the past 15 months and we hope this funding will really help it flourish,” said Minister MacTiernan.
The importance of sufficient hemp processing capacity in Australia can’t be understated. One of the big challenges the USA has faced with hemp becoming legal at a Federal level is while there have been plenty of farmers growing the crop, hemp processing hasn’t kept pace and this then impacts heavily on farmers.
The industry in Western Australia is regulated under the Industrial Hemp Act 2004. In WA, suitably licenced farmers are able to grow hemp, but the leaves and flowering heads cannot contain more than 1.0% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).