Farmer lobby group NSW Farmers has welcomed the NSW Government’s efforts to support the growing hemp industry by trying to improve supply chains and reduce red tape.

NSW Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty announced on February 8 the establishment of a hemp industry taskforce to support the growth of the NSW industrial hemp industry.

The taskforce will include 12 representatives from growers and industry associations and consider options to support growers, with the global hemp market expected to quadruple to $18.6 billion by 2027.

NSW Farmers agricultural science committee chair Alan Brown said developing new and emerging markets such as industrial hemp would provide more opportunity for farmers to diversify, driving further economic activity.

“Industrial hemp is an emerging industry in Australia, and we’re trailing Canada, China and the European Union in terms of scale and value of production,” Alan said.

“We see the industrial hemp industry experiencing strong growth, with innovative technologies improving production and a range of value-added products being developed.

“What we need is a way for our farmers to tap into these new technologies and new markets, which will drive economic activity both at a local and state level.”

Alan said pursuing value-adding opportunities in agriculture — creating finished products rather than raw ingredients — had the potential to create 230,000 jobs and add a further $50 billion to the state’s economy.

“By investing in agriculture the state government can help farmers literally grow a stronger future for NSW,” he said.

“I hope we can take the hemp industry as an example of the way we could apply this approach right across the agricultural sector.”

Industrial hemp is distinct from cannabis cultivated for medical purposes. In NSW, the Hemp Industry Act 2008 allows the licensed cultivation and supply of low-THC hemp fibre and seed production under controlled conditions.