Farm Bill: Hemp Production, Is It Worth It?

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp production and transport, spurring major interest from many Tribes and individual producers.  Like any agricultural endeavor, prospective growers must evaluate production and market feasibility.

  • Do you have the capacity to grow a viable crop (land, equipment, knowledge, seeds, etc)?
  • If so, do you have market outlets for the raw harvested crop or do have processing capacity to turn that crop into value added products?

Local extension agents may have some information, but the novelty of this new production opportunity creates knowledge gaps.  The following study completed by the Congressional Research Service offers an overview of market and basic production information, as well as references to additional resources.  Some highlights of the document include:

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“Most researchers acknowledge the potential profitability of industrial hemp, but also the potential obstacles to its development. Current challenges facing the industry include the need to re-establish agricultural supply chains, breed varieties with modern attributes, upgrade harvesting equipment, modernize processing and manufacturing, and identify new market opportunities.

In the past two decades, researchers at the USDA and various land grant universities and state agencies (for example, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, and Vermont; see Appendix A) have conducted several feasibility and marketing studies. More recent available market reports indicate that the estimated gross value of hemp production per acre is about $21,000 from seeds and $12,500 from stalks.” (Page 6)



Fall Newsletter

Our fall newsletter for the Great Lakes Region is posted below.  Here are some highlights:

  • Youth Essay Contest: This year’s contest theme is “Feeding the Future and Filling the Age Gap in Indian Agriculture”.  Tribal youth ages 9th-12th grade are encouraged to apply.  The top three finalists will receive a generous prize package and an all expenses paid trip to the IAC Annual Membership Meeting for themselves and an adult chaperone.  We also have a limited number of youth scholarships available to the Membership Meeting.
  • IAC Annual Membership Meeting: Held December 8-11, the 28th annual event will again be at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.  We have a couple producer scholarships for the Great Lakes Region.  Additional information and the membership form is included in the attached newsletter.
  • Intertribal Maple Syrup Producer Co-op: This new effort is working to build support for Native sugar producers by providing equipment discounts, education, unified marketing, and enhanced coordination.  A recently awarded USDA Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) is supporting a feasibility study and business plan.  The co-op website is
  • Mobile Farmers Market: Despite limited funding and staffing, the second season of the Mobile Farmers Market continued to make strides in expanding access to and promoting traditional foods.  We are in the process of reevaluating outreach and distribution strategies that is focusing on expanded distribution partnerships to allow more regular ordering and deliveries while continuing to use the van for special events and larger shipments.  Our USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant has expired, but we are committed to continuing this effort.
  • Sustainable Ag. Workshop Series: Events this year included the MOSES Organic Farming Conference, the Food Sovereignty Summit, a Seed Training at Shakopee in May, and seed saving workshops in conjunction with LCO’s Tribal College and College of Menominee Nation.  We are working to expand the number and scope of workshops next year.  USDA SARE has provided funding to make this effort possible.

great lakes_fall ’14 newsletter_member

Great Lakes Region Monthly Update Conference Call

2:00pm central time, Wednesday, April 9th will be our monthly update conference call.  Call in number is 866-614-2162 and the code is 987 114 7244.  These call will take place the second Wednesday of each month at 2:00pm using the same phone number and access code.  Please feel free to spread the word.  We’re planning to give everyone who is interested up to 2 minutes to give your own update.

April 9th Agenda

  1. Introductions
  2. Food Sovereignty Summit
  3. Intertribal Maple Syrup Producers Co-op
  4. USDA Farm to School Grant
  5. Mobile Farmers Market 2014 Schedule
  6. Discussion and individual updates

Job Opportunity: WTCAC Program Manager

The Wisconsin Conservation Advisory Council (WTCAC) is hiring a Program Manager who is responsible for organization’s the day-to-day operations.  WTCAC includes membership from each of Wisconsin 11 federally-recognized Tribes, serving as an innovative connecting organization not only among the state’s Tribes, but also with various USDA, other federal, and state agencies.  Priorities moving forward include building expanded partnerships and heading new initiatives in food sovereignty.  The position description is listed below.

WTCAC_Program Manager Announcement

Food Safety Regulations Public Comment Period Extended

The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the public comment period on the proposed regulations implementing the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that could have a major impact on Tribal food operations.  The lack of Tribal consultation has been one of the MAJOR problems with these proposed regulations.  Aside from the host of possible adverse implications, these regulations do not specify whether Tribes are included under a variance that allows foreign governments to implement their own regulations.

Here is more information from the University of Arkansas Law School’s

A Big Thank You!


Bruce explains how to make delicious maple candy from finished syrup.

Bruce explains how to make delicious maple candy from finished syrup.

Thank you to everyone who came to the Maple Syrup Producers Workshop event last weekend. It was great to see so many people involved in discussions on syrup production and USDA programs. We hope all of your questions were answered, and if not, please contact us!

A special thanks to Danielle Diver, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, USDA agency representatives, and Red Lake Fisheries for your assistance putting the event on. We would like to recognize Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education for providing funding for the event.

A future event is tentatively planned for early April that will focus on syrup production in action including a tour of different evaporator systems. Stay tuned for more information!

Announcing Mobile Farmers Market

The Intertribal Agriculture Council is pleased to announce we will be launching a Mobile Farmers Market in the Great Lakes Region in late spring 2013.  Based in the Duluth, MN area, this project will employ a fuel-efficient cargo van to create a regional food distribution network.  The Mobile Farmers Market’s two main goals are 1) expanding Tribal food producers’ market access and 2) increasing the availability of fresh, healthy, and traditional food in Tribal communities, especially those in remote areas.

This project is seeking local partners in Tribal communities.  Where there is interest, it is seeking to work with existing markets and provide support to start new ones.  More information will be available in the near future.