ALAMOSA – Chief Business Development Officer Jeff Owsley of San Luis Valley Hemp Co. made a presentation to the Alamosa Rotary Club about the firm’s role in hemp growth and sales on Monday at Juanito’s Restaurant.
Acclaiming hemp as an “upcoming superfood, with 200 percent more omegas than in salmon,” he added, “We think we were the first ones to sell hemp food products that were grown in the United States,” in modern times after a regulatory ban originating in the 1930’s.
The San Luis Valley Hemp business, based in Del Norte, began in 2014, promptly after Colorado laws allowed legal mass growth. Owsley described where the firm is marketing and some of the complications involved. He related that large grocers such as Whole Foods, Safeway and Albertson’s among others now offer hemp food, but not without both the distributor and the food chains going through an extensive step-by-step research and regulatory process, often lasting a year to a year-and-a half before available to consumers.
The next step for the hemp firm involves nationally marketing the crop, because hemp is still classified as a “Schedule 1 substance” a group also occupied by dangerous material, for example heroin. The truth of the matter is hemp does not have high-producing capability like marijuana. Owsley told the Rotary members and guests that the “every fourth year Farm Bill,” which may be passed in the near future has an addition (a rider crafted by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet) that will take away that obstacle to the marketing of hemp and make a marked difference in the product’s national marketing future.
Owsley clarified the classification has bipartisan backup.
SLV Hemp Co. 2018 crop covers 600 acres, “about five circles,” he summarized, grown generally to 12-14 feet high. It is completely harvested to the ground. While SLV Hemp focuses primarily on food uses for hemp, plant stalks are sold to Patagonia Inc., for development into clothing for commercial sale.
In answer to members’ curiosity about water use of growing hemp, Owsley answered, “about half of the water used for potato or barley growth.”
Capping off his presentation, Owsley happily declared that historically, “Hemp is a very old product.” How old? “Hemp came over on the Mayflower (with the original Pilgrims coming to North America), and the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp.”