Australian farmers in Tasmania increase hempseed production for food

The number of hemp producers in the Australian state of Tasmania, which produces 66% of the nation’s commercial hemp crop, has nearly doubled – and it’s projected to continue growing because drought is causing supply shortage in other regions, according to Australia’s ABC News.

Tasmania has produced hemp for fiber and cosmetics since the 1990s, but changes to the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code in 2017 allowed the sale and consumption of low-THC hempseed foods.

As a result, production increased, with a shift in focus to food.

Tim Schmidt, president of the Hemp Association of Tasmania, told ABC that the number of growers has increased from 29 to 49 since last season.

Production this season is expected to far exceed last year’s average of one ton per hectare or 0.4 tons per acre, he said.

Tasmania’s hemp crop is valued at nearly 5 million Australian dollars ($3.6 million), while the international food market for hempseed is estimated at A$1 billion.

Tasmanian farmers spend AU$1,300 per acre to produce the crop and are receiving AU$3 per kilogram (AU$1.36 per pound).