The U.S. Hemp Growers Association (USHGA), the only national grower-directed hemp trade association, was officially formed in late December in Indianapolis. Founded by a diverse group of leaders, the organization will provide educational and market development resources, research, and networking opportunities and will unify the voice of growers to actively engage in critically important advocacy efforts.
Founding partners that came together to create USHGA include U.S. Hemp Farming Alliance, First Crop, International Hemp Solutions, HiLo Seed, GenCanna, and Farm Journal. At launch, more than 300 farmer-members of U.S. Hemp Farming Alliance will fold into USHGA.
Caren Wilcox will serve as the inaugural USHGA executive director. Wilcox is a well-known ag and food leader who has held executive roles at Hershey, the USDA, and the Organic Trade Association. USHGA will meet in late February 2020 in San Antonio to secure founding partners and to install an initial board of directors. A majority of the board leaders will be active hemp farmers.
“I am honored to be a part of this historical moment in U.S. agriculture and lend my experience and expertise to the emerging commercial hemp industry as we develop this organization,” Wilcox says. “The forward-thinking industry leaders who have partnered on this endeavor see the potential for hemp as an agricultural commodity and understand this industry can contribute to the environment and sustainable products that benefit, at the grassroots level, farmers and consumers.”
“Industrial hemp provides a unique economic opportunity for farmers and all of rural America,” says Michael Bowman, Co-founder of First Crop. “I am thrilled that First Crop is a founding partner of USHGA. Our focus is to promote regenerative farming practices to nurture the soil, not just for this year’s crop but for future generations, and hemp is one of the tools that will help us achieve these goals.”
Farmers and organizations interested in supporting U.S. agriculture’s role in the success of industrial hemp should go to ushempga.org to obtain more information or to sign up as a member of the organization.
Brian Sparks is senior editor of Greenhouse Grower and editor of Greenhouse Grower Technology. See all author stories here.