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Hemp Production Funding Allocated in Tribal Budget

By Joe Morey

News Editor

The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) has appropriated $100,000 in their recently passed 2021 Tribal Budget towards the implementation of growing Hemp in a partnership with the LCO Ojibwe College. The total cost is estimated to be $222,545, of which the remaining amount is covered under a research grant awarded to the college that would provide for a hemp growing partnership between the Tribe, college and UW-Madison.

As part of the plan, the TGB set aside two acres of land next to the LCO Police and Conservation Departments for growing CBD seedlings, which one acre will be utilized by the partnership created under the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s tribal college research grant program, and another acre will be used solely by the Tribe.

The TGB approved a contract with Thi Li, Director of Operations for the Sokaogon Medicinal Corporation (SMC), to help the Tribe in their efforts as a consultant in the Hemp operation. She will help the Tribe with making decisions on budgets, logistics and business development for the hemp farm. She will also communicate with companies and organizations on behalf of the Tribe pertaining to hemp cultivating, drying, storage, processing and sales.

Li recently sent a letter to the new Tribal Chairman at Mole Lake stating that LCO would still like to pursue use of their indoor processing facility once the hemp is cultivated. LCO and Mole Lake had already discussed this arrangement with the prior council but a new council was elected this past Fall.

Li said the LCO Tribe plans to grow 7-8 varieties of hemp for a total of 1,000-2,000 plants. Depending on the yields, LCO should expect between 1,000-4,000 pounds of dried hemp material at the end of the growing season, she explained to the Mole Lake Chairman.

Amber Marlow, Dean of Continuing Education and Extension at the LCO Ojibwe College will be the research grant project director and ensure the timeline, activities, and objectives are being met. Marlow will oversee the project, data collection, supervision of interns, and regular communication with partners at UW-Madison.

“The grant is for three years and research will be in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Shelby Ellison. The grant will allow the tribe to study the economic feasibility of growing hemp for CBD and do variety trials to determine which varieties grow best in our USDA plant hardiness zone 3b,” explained Marlow.

A job posting has been posted through the Tribe’s employment page and the college seeking a hemp manager through the 3-year grant.

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