The “Hemp for Our Future” campaign is a new social responsibility effort that shines a spotlight on the possibilities of the hemp crop at a particularly fraught juncture in the industry. Not only is hemp a relatively new legal crop for American farmers, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has quickly changed how industries work to support one another.
Hemp farmers around the U.S. will join forces with industry groups and other private businesses to produce and donate certain goods and materials for frontline health care workers. These may include food, clothing, hand sanitizers (produced in newly converted processing facilities) and personal protective equipment.
"One in seven people in Kentucky were struggling with hunger before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and now that number is even bigger," said Chad Rosen, CEO of Kentucky-based Victory Hemp Foods, in a public statement. His company contributed hundreds of pounds of hemp hearts to local food banks. "As a superfood ingredient manufacturer, we are trying to do what we can with what we have to help the greatest number of people. We decided to start by donating hundreds of pounds of nutrient-dense hemp hearts to food banks in the communities where we live. We are also encouraging others to take similar action, because even small acts can have a big impact.”
The campaign echoes the “Hemp for Victory” film that the U.S. government produced and distributed during World War II. At the time, another critical moment of crisis for the country, American farmers were encouraged to grow hemp crops to support the war effort and develop fiber materials for the military. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, a prohibition on the crop, was briefly lifted for just this purpose.
"Hemp for Our Future is currently focused on helping health care workers and others on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis, but the network we have created will be able to continue doing good well into the future," said Hemp for Our Future co-founder Courtney Moran, of Agricultural Hemp Solutions, in a public statement. "It is a meaningful way in which we can unite and strengthen this new industry, while also illuminating the utility and sustainability of this amazing crop. Now that commercial hemp production is federally legal in the U.S., we can put it to use to meet our country's industrial material needs, while also regenerating our soils and rural economies."
The campaign was co-founded by Vicente Sederberg LLP, Agricultural Hemp Solutions and Friends of Hemp. Shawn Hauser, partner and chair of Vicente Sederberg's Hemp & Cannabinoid Law Practice Group, said in an interview with Hemp Grower that the crop is positioned in 2020 as a helpful vehicle for real chance and impact in the U.S.
"Hemp is uniquely suited to be utilized for thousands of product types, from textiles, to plastics, to super foods, topicals, building materials—the list goes on," she said. "As we see front line workers in need of everything from food to durable clothing material, as we see masks becoming standard uniform for our country, and as we see businesses innovate utilizing shields and separation mechanisms to operate safely, hemp materials are a clear solution. Hemp, a natural plant fiber, is a non-toxic, durable, and often bio-degradable material that has a host of beneficial properties. Making materials out of hemp, rather than many alternatives, is good for our planet."
"Hemp for Our Future" member organizations as of late May include:
- Agricultural Hemp Solutions
- Cannabis Doing Good
- Colorado Hemp Company
- Colorado Hemp Industries Association
- EARTH Law LLC
- Friends of Hemp
- Hemp History Week
- Hemp Industries Association
- Hemp Road Trip
- National Cannabis Industry Association
- National Hemp Association
- OP Innovates
- Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association
- Oregon State University Global Hemp Innovation Center
- Texas Hemp Educational Organization
- U.S. Hemp Building Association
- U.S. Hemp Growers Conferences & Expo
- Vicente Sederberg LLP
- Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition
- Vote Hemp
"Growers can connect with others who are involved in their communities to ensure supply for the materials that could be helpful to their community," Hauser said. "Through the Hemp for Our Future website, companies will be able to connect with others involved in their community."