Update: Costilla County hopes hemp can help improve struggling economy

Categories: Marijuana, News

Ben Droz
Update below: The two-month period during which Colorado farmers could register to grow hemp for the 2014 growing season closed on May 1. As of 4:30 p.m. that day, state records show that 42 people or businesses were approved to grow hemp and another 53 had applied but were not yet approved. And there may be more on the way. Colorado Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Christi Lightcap says more applications may trickle in, since they simply had to be postmarked -- not received -- by May 1.

A few of the applicants stand out, including Costilla County and Colorado State University.

The list of registrants provided to us by the Colorado Department of Agriculture doesn't include any details about where or what Costilla County intends to grow. It only indicates that the county was approved to grow hemp for research and development purposes rather than commercial purposes. We've reached out to Costilla County officials about their plans and will update this post if and when we hear back.

Update, May 6: After this post went live on May 5, we heard back from Ben Doon, the Costilla County administrator for the county commissioners. He says the county is partnering with a nonprofit out of California called Fibershed to plant a quarter-acre to a half-acre of hemp seeds this spring. The seeds will be planted on the Carpenter Ranch, a 1,200-acre ranch that the county bought in 2005 with funds from a Great Outdoors Colorado grant.

"We're always looking for interesting agricultural projects that we could do," Doon says. Doing so is especially important since Costilla County and the San Luis Valley have a high unemployment rate, a low median income and little private industry, he says. Because of that, Doon explains, "nonprofits and governments have a big role to play around here to find economically viable ventures." Hemp, he figures, might be one of those ventures.

"We'll be trying a couple different varieties of hemp to see how it does in this climate," Doon says. The county already has a small bio-diesel plant that crushes locally grown sunflower and canola seeds into fuel to use in the county's fleet of vehicles. Doon says it's possible that hemp seeds could be used to produce bio-diesel, as well. In addition, the California group, Fibershed, is interested in the uses of hemp fiber.

If this year's attempt at growing hemp goes well, Doon says he envisions a bigger project next year -- possibly a commercial trial of up to twenty acres in which local farmers, many of whom have turned to more lucrative ranching, could get involved.

"We're just trying to get some baseline data," Doon says of this year's plot.

Continue reading for the rest of our original post, from May 5.

Ben Droz
A girl helps harvest hemp in September, before the registration process was in place. One farm, Ryan Loflin, didn't wait to put seeds in the ground.
We also contacted Colorado State University and spoke with Alan Rudolph, CSU's vice president for research. CSU also applied to grow hemp for research and development purposes, and Rudolph says the university is currently in discussions with the state agriculture department and industry groups about how best to support farmers.

Continue for more on CSU's plans.

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Nathan Chestnutt
Nathan Chestnutt

Hemp should be growing on every farm in America. End of discussion.


Costilla County is likely wanting to grow hemp to see how it will work in their biofuel refinery.

On that note, I attempted to get a provision in this year's hemp bill to allow crops that test between .3 and 1% THC by dry weight to be allowed to be sold to biofuel refineries - however Representative Don Coram decided he didn't want to allow the amendment to move forward.

Don Coram needs to be voted out of office.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Canadian farmers have been growing Industrial Hemp for over 14 years ... and haven't reaped any financial windfalls, some even switched back to traditional Corn and Wheat.

What makes Colorado farmers think they can do any better?


fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  Colorado does not offer the right conditions for wheat and corn, for the most part.  What else are they going to grow?   Hemp grows like a weed.  

RobertChase topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  Very, very weak -- thank-you for affirming that some Canadian farmers grow hemp for a profit.  As for Colorado's hemp farmers, while they may hope to better the performance of Canadian farmers, they may also rely on the likelihood of increased domestic demand for products made from hemp, and they will enjoy the advantages of being domestic suppliers in a market now supplied exclusively through foreign trade.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@fishingblues ... spoken like the true idiot you are, who knows exactly nothing about the subject matter.


@RobertChase  Alberta farmers cashing in on hemp farms

Many Alberta farmers have taken to hemp to round out their crops and some say they're making a tidy profit.

According to a recent study done by Alberta Agriculture, farmers in the province seeded the most hemp in all of Canada at 6,434 hectares last year.

The preliminary estimate for this year is 8,000 hectares.

"As long as we keep making money we'll keep growing it," says Will Van Roessel.

The Bow Island-area farmer is about to harvest hemp for the third straight year.

He's been contracted to grow the hemp for its seeds, which could be processed into a wide range of products including oil, flour, shampoo and wood sealant. Van Roessel says he's expecting to make three times the amount he would get for wheat.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase  ... why would there be increased domestic demand for hemp products, when hemp products produced from less expensive Chinese, Eastern European and Canadian hemp have been available for decades?

The only "likelihood" is in that delusional brain of yours that habitually FABRICATED BULLSHIT for your own egomaniacal aggrandizement. 

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@kevin_hunt ... so why not move to Canada and become a Hemp Tycoon Bazillionaire, eh Kevin?

How hard could it be to get RICH, BITCH ... at $200 / acre nominal profit on a good year?

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