By Cole Parkinson
The government of Alberta announced earlier this month they would be supplying a one-time grant to the Alberta Hemp Alliance (AHA) to establish a provincial industry association for hemp processing.
In a media conference held last week, the government announced the grant will see more than $300,000 over two years through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership and will help the alliance build capacity to fulfil its mandate as the provincial association for the hemp industry.
The AHA is a non-profit association of stakeholders collaborating to create a strong, competitive and diversified Hemp Industry in Alberta and they work to promote market development, provide networking, tools, and resources for Alberta hemp producers and processors.
“Supporting the burgeoning hemp industry is important because it will provide producers new market opportunities and a way to diversify their rotation with this alternative crop. From seed to straw, the opportunities to sell this crop are growing, with value-added products ranging from food to biofuel to bioplastics and construction materials,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Locally, Rowland Farms was one of the companies to first jump on the hemp bandwagon.
They started farming the product as soon as it was legal to do so and since that time, they have continued to explore different hemp opportunities in and around the municipality.
In 2019, Federal Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains announced the government would be providing a $4 million matching grant to Rowland Farms, Corteva Canada and Botaneco to help develop the processing abilities of the Canadian oilseeds industry.
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership has also provided more than $950,000 in grants to BioComposites Group Inc. (BCG) in the past three years to support growth in the hemp fibre industry in Alberta.
The Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments “to strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector.”
This also includes up to $2 billion for programs cost-shared by the federal and provincial/territorial governments that are designed and delivered by provinces and territories.
In Alberta, the Partnership has committed a federal-provincial investment of up to $406 million over five years toward strategic programs and services that are aligned to national objectives and tailored to regional needs.
“Emerging industries like the hemp fibre sector are creating full-time local jobs and driving diversification in Alberta. It’s great to see BCG and the Alberta Hemp Alliance committed to rural revitalization and supporting our ambitious targets for job creation, investment attraction and increased agricultural and value-added exports,” stated Devin Dreeshen, minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
The AHA explained the grant will be a huge help for the alliance and will further expand growth in the industry across the province.
“With this grant from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the Alberta Hemp Alliance will continue to build a diverse and collaborative community of like-minded individuals, businesses and organizations to facilitate the rapid growth of the hemp industry in Alberta. We will continue to focus on facilitating market development and provide provincial networking, tools and resources,” explained Corey Peebles, chair of the AHA.