With the hemp and agriculture trade show circuit now in full swing, HNP has been on the road in recent weeks. In particular, we’ve been spending time in states that will be legalizing hemp farming for the first time in 2020: Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Texas. (Yes, we know, technically Nebraska was legal last year, but see our prior blog on that topic). We’re impressed by the fact that producers’ enthusiasm is being tempered by a clear understanding of some of the challenges – in particular, marketing to hemp processors (again, see our prior blog post on the challenges of marketing hemp in 2019).
So we’re asking ourselves, “how does a state new to hemp in 2020 leverage both that enthusiasm and that skepticism?” We think the answer lies on advice that came to us from one of our friends in the venture capital community, Kyle Lefkoff at Boulder Ventures. Kyle wrote that one of his firm’s goals “is to disseminate information about mistakes throughout our organization and portfolio companies. That way, when we do make mistakes, they are Original Mistakes, not the same ones other people have already made.”
Likewise, the goal of a new farmer to hemp should be to make as few of the mistakes already made (and perhaps learned from) in other states (yes, we’re talking about you, Colorado!). Yet how do you accomplish that? Here are our suggestions:
· Work with good vendors and partners. We feel that means a good breadth of knowledge and experience, transparency about what they do and don’t know, and a willingness to share their firm resources and hemp network(for free).
· Ensure your land grant college is engaged and correctly targeted. It’s one thing for the ag school to have a hemp program, it’s another for its professionals to be focused on answering the questions that really matter to their producers (and not re-asking questions already successfully answered in other states).
· Look for opportunities to share knowledge within your state, whether sponsored by that same ag school, by your progressive department of agriculture, or by a state-specific hemp trade association.
· Pay attention to the most relevant nearby state you can find. Here in the West, that probably means Colorado: its Department of Ag, the hemp research being done at Colorado State University, and so on.
· Learn from peers you trust. Leverage those Colorado hemp friends of yours!
If you can access the knowledge of other folks in your network, and they’re candid about their hemp successes and failures, you can focus on minimizing your own Original Mistakes, and maximizing the success of your 2020 hemp crop.
Let us know if we can help.