A local council in the Australian state of New South Wales is supporting a hemp cultivation trial and processing feasibility study.
The Murray River Council is a local government area in the Riverina region of New South Wales; formed in 2016 after the merger of Murray Shire with Wakool Shire.
Council was approached by Western Murray Land Improvement Group (WMLIG) to kick in $20,000 to support WMLIG and Hemp Cluster Group – the latter a working group of 8 members – to undertake a hemp trial and complete an industrial hemp processing feasibility study.
WMLIG’s stated goals are to contribute to a viable, capable and adaptable community by promoting sustainable farm and land management practices delivering enhanced agricultural productivity, sustainability and ecosystem services.
The project involves ascertaining the potential for growing hemp in the Murray River region across a range of seasonal conditions and for processing it into usable fibre for use in creating building products. It will also look into potential synergies between hemp production and biochar use on farms.
The trial and feasibility study will occur in the Wakool region.
WMLIG are investing $40,000 into the trial, plus an additional $40,440 for the feasibility study – and that’s where the Council funds would go as the total cost of feasibility study is $60,440.
“The Hemp Cluster plan to complete a feasibility study that will create a strong base to access government funding and/or private investment,” states a Murray River Council meeting agenda document. “The feasibility study will be based on a co-operative business model and will provide positive economic stimulus to this region.”
At its meeting last Tuesday, the motion to provide the cash was carried. While not budgeted, the funding may come from Council’s annual grants program.
It’s great to see a local government getting behind hemp. While the study may show cultivating hemp is not a viable proposition for the region, the Council document notes this is “unlikely”.
Hemp fibre has a multitude of applications in the building industry. Among its uses is hempcrete, particle/chipboard and insulation, with less environmental impact than many conventional products.