FORT BENTON, Mont. – IND HEMP, a family-owned hemp processing facility in the heart of Montana’s Golden Triangle, aims to provide contracted farmers with supply chain consistency while also offering consumers quality hemp-based products.
Sticking true to their mission, which reads “IND HEMP provides innovative agricultural products and services to connect American farmers with the pioneers and businesses that see hemp as a way to bring real and lasting change to our communities and planet,” the company opened their hemp grain processing facility in March of 2020. IND HEMP went right to work processing around 3,500 contracted hemp acres from 2019, but the timing couldn’t have been more imperfect, in a lot of ways.
“We did have a challenge in that we launched the county’s largest hemp grain processor right as the world shut down for COVID,” reflected Gregg Gnecco, director of sales and marketing for IND HEMP.
Despite the fact the world was reeling from the consequences of a worldwide pandemic, IND HEMP nevertheless persisted in their commitment to provide their contracted growers with opportunities. Adding on to the IND HEMP’s grain processing capabilities, the company also worked to install a de-hulling and hemp heart processing line. Construction for this part of the facility was delayed because of COVID, but Gnecco was pleased to announce construction for this part of the facility was in its final stages.
“We should be operational with that within the next couple of weeks as we start receiving this year’s harvest,” he added during a phone interview on Sept. 23.
For 2020, IND HEMP had 9,600 contracted acres with growers in Montana and the eastern portion of Washington and Oregon. Many of those acres are even planted with X59, the dual-purpose hemp variety IND HEMP licensed exclusively.
“We invested in the rights of these seeds so our growers could have the right thing at the right cost,” Gnecco stated.
X59 is a true dual-purpose hemp variety, meaning it produces a great seed head, but it also has a long stock. Once hemp is processed for grain, the residue left over cannot be readily tilled under, at least not until it breaks down some. Commonly, producers just burn the hemp residue before re-planting their field. However, that residue is the foundation for the strongest fiber in the natural world. IND HEMP knew with their growers, full-time agronomists and a certified licensed hemp variety they were poised to make an impact in fiber production, as well.
So, on Aug. 27, 2020, IND HEMP broke ground for their fiber processing facility. This facility is set to be state-of-the-art with a five ton per hour processing capability. Put into perspective, Gnecco explains the facility will be processing enough to fill four semi-trucks per day. Construction is projected to be completed by July of 2021.
It may be hard to quantify exactly what kind of impact this expanded facility will have. IND HEMP is projecting they will be able to hire 50 on-site employees and that alone will have a huge positive economic impact on the small farming community of Fort Benton. Additionally, with all aspects of their facility up and fully operational, IND HEMP estimates they will need some 30,000 contracted hemp acres. With each expansion, IND HEMP continues to prove they are a true Montana-based company.
Nationally, companies have struggled to support a way to produce hemp-based fiber product since industrial hemp became legalized in 2018. Hemp fiber production takes a lot of acres, which economically can be hard to support. This is where IND HEMP’s location plays a critical role as they sit right in the heart of Montana’s wheat county with prime farm ground as far as the eye can see. Furthermore, hemp is proving to be a great rotational crop with wheat.
“Hemp is a great cash crop to put on a field that may otherwise lay fallow for a year,” Gnecco pointed out.
Gnecco emphasized once again, for IND HEMP it is all about their mission. They are a company that is dedicated to their growers, their goals and the community they have chosen as home. Anybody interested in knowing more about IND HEMP is encouraged to check out their website, www.indhemp.com.