Friday, April 19, 2024

North Carolina’s hemp crops devastated by Florence but on the road to recovery

For some hemp farmers, things could have been much worse.

Hemp farms in North Carolina have been devastated after Hurricane Florence but companies are finding new ways to rebound (Port City Daily/File)
Hemp farms in North Carolina have been devastated after Hurricane Florence but companies are finding new ways to rebound. (Port City Daily/File)

SOUTHEAST N.C. — Hurricane Florence took a serious toll on homeowners and businesses around the Cape Fear area. It also devastated those in a relatively new industry in North Carolina — hemp farmers.

Grown 2 Gold is a multi-level hemp company that is working with local farmers to salvage the crops that were left damaged by Hurricane Florence earlier this fall.

“We lost our entire farm and we are aware of dozens of others that have as well,” Boone Rivenbark, CEO of Grown 2 Gold said. “We wanted to work with others to help demonstrate industry best practices for saving and processing what little was left to make up for some of the heavy investments farmers have put into this pilot program, and allow for us to share a new knowledge base on what works and doesn’t work with adverse weather such as this moving forward.”

Fortunately for Rivenbark, his approach to the startup business was one with risk mitigation built in and the crops lost, while comprehensive, was not as bad as it could have been.

“At Grown 2 Gold we understand the importance of patience and research when developing a truly grassroots business in an emerging industry, that is so new to this state.  That said we were truly only operating at about an eighth of the capacity that one would be cultivating an acre meaning that $5,000 loss could have been far greater,” he said. “We lost over 100 plants which in our situation was $750; A loss that could have potentially been felt tenfold had we not approached this project with the proper amount of risk mitigation necessary as a homegrown start-up.”

Florence might have been a setback for the North Carolina hemp industry but for Rivenbark he expects to rebound from the damages relatively quick.

“I intended to create our 2018 plan with the expectation that I wanted to keep roughly 30% of our investment in liquid cash allowing us to have the potential to turn a total loss into positive cash flow with a little ingenuity and quick thinking. Since being able to work with other affected farmers in Eastern North Carolina and having the buying power needed to continue our market research; we are anticipating a less than 4-month recovery time on our losses,” he said.

What does it mean for hemp in NC?

There are over 30,000 products manufactured from the hemp plant(Port City Daily Photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)
There are over 30,000 products manufactured from the hemp plant (Port City Daily Photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)

Just how badly will Florence affect hemp production and availability of products like CBD oil — hopefully, not too badly. The worst affected are the hemp farmers, but wholesalers and distributors are still able to get product from out of state farms.

“The most important part of this question is understanding who was affected the worst. And the answer is, the farmer. Any processor, wholesaler or retailer can simply seek out products or flower from any other state with Federally recognized Pilot Programs thus being able to make their returns on investment with ease, Rivenbark said.

“But what does that do for the industry in North Carolina and what does it mean for the future of Industrial Hemp in North Carolina? Well, we currently have all that we need in the state to be a viable competitor in cultivating, processing and selling Industrial Hemp and CBD products minus a few regulatory tweaks… The price point of Industrial Hemp in North Carolina is at a relatively high level, predominately due to its infancy as an established industry in North Carolina, not so much from an increased demand due to the increased loss of flower from hurricane Florence.  We only buy from North Carolina farmers because we only want North Carolina grown, tested and processed Flower which will only solidify North Carolina’s place in the Hemp Marketplace,” he concluded.

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