2nd annual hemp summit in Danville a success

Over 300 people from around the country, world attended

DANVILLE, Va. – Progress is being made toward creating a hemp industry in Southside.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research's second annual Industrial Hemp Summit wrapped up Tuesday.

Over 300 people from across the country and the world attended the two-day event.

The summit is designed to get people to discuss how they can work together to help create a hemp industry.

"We've heard people that go to a lot of these events say they really felt we've assembled the best group of people and they're getting the most knowledge in one short event," IALR executive director Mark Gignac said.

The new farm bill, which was signed into law in December, removed hemp from the federal controlled substances list.

That means it can legally be grown and sold.

"We're the only industrialized country that doesn't already have a developed industrial hemp industry," said Marty Clemons, president of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp association.

She says the hemp industry in the U.S. is developing differently than hemp industries around the world.

"The U.S. (hemp industry) is really developing around the flower, the floral parts of the material -- the base of our industry. But the food and fiber aspect of the (hemp) industry have the ability to far outweigh the flower aspect," she explained.

Blake Butler, the executive director of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association, said that over 3,500 acres of hemp are being grown in North Carolina.

North Carolina was one of multiple states, he said, that were part of a pilot program to grow hemp for research purposes so there's already a plan developed for a hemp industry in North Carolina.

That experience is a key aspect of the Industrial Hemp Summit.

"We try to tell every farmer, 'When a new agricultural community comes along, collaborate. Listen to those around you that have already been growing.' That's what we're trying to at this event," Butler said.

For more information about the summit, click here.

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