Idaho is certainly no bastion of hemp production in the U.S., even two years out from the 2018 Farm Bill signing. But now the Nez Perce tribe is hoping to get its farmers set up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to bring hemp to its reservation, which lies within the political borders of Idaho.
Hemp has been the subject of debate within the tribe for several years now, with leaders urging on the new federal regulations governing the industry. The tribe is now accepting public comments on the proposal, due by Oct. 23.
“Due to its versatility and organic nature, industrial hemp has been identified as a potential avenue for economic development on the reservation,” Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Law and Order Subcommittee Chairman Arthur Broncheau said in a public statement. “Because there is tremendous growth in sectors of the economy that rely on hemp, the Tribe believes hemp is an emerging market that can accomplish economic self-sufficiency and increase jobs in our region.”
The crop dovetails with the tribe’s cultural vision of sustainable agriculture that offers its people many varied uses. “Our ancestors grew and utilized hemp for several reasons, including the creation of basic supplies, such as clothing and rope, and to support their health and wellbeing,” Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Vice Chairwoman Chantel Greene said in a public statement.
The Lewiston Tribune editorial board, whose paper is based just outside the Nez Perce reservation, drew a sharp contrast between the open dialogue of the tribe and the open-and-shut hemp proceedings in the Idaho legislature.
As of early October, 35 other tribes have earned approval for their hemp plans.
The Nez Perce are one of five federally recognized tribes based within the political borders of Idaho. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the tribe numbered 3,499.