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Farmer’s Revival offers solutions to tough hemp questions

Making one-stop hemp processing, storage, and marketing accessible for producers could be an answer to the embattled industry.
Photo courtesy Trevor Fritzler

A self-described innovator, Trevor Fritzler was looking for potential avenues by which to increase his family farm’s income. Located in LaSalle, Colo., Fritzler is a fourth-generation producer who helped his dad, Glenn, diversify his farm to include Fritzler’s Farm Park.

After using hemp to treat some health challenges, the elder Fritzler loved the product, the plant, and the potential. In 2019, they raised 128 acres of hemp and soon, Farmer’s Revival, a partnership between Trevor and Ryan Trinkler, was established to make hemp more feasible for Colorado growers.

Fritzler said there was a jump in hemp acres from 2018 to 2019 and the new market space was wrought with bad deals and speculation, at one point, that there were more lawsuits regarding hemp contracts than any other industry in the world.

“Part of that came from going into 2019 with the price for biomass sitting between $35 and $40 per pound,” he said. “By the time harvest came around, there was no place — even if you could put a dollar amount on it — there was no place to go with it because there was such a glut with so many farms growing it and the demand didn’t meet that.”

The problem, he said, many growers jumped in expecting those prices after investing $6 to $14 per pound in production costs. Many growers, he said, were caught unaware of the difficulties associated with processing.

“Our experience at Farmer’s Revival was that there were a ton of hands the material has to pass through before it was extraction-ready or was at the last step to the extractor,” he said. “At the end of the day, the farmer in a lot of these split deals would get a portion of their oil back that they then had to learn how to sell into this new marketplace.”

ONE STOP SHOP

Those steps, he said, added up with drying, cleaning, shrinkage, and the inability to find reliable companies to depend upon.

It made sense to Fritzler that all of the services needed to be under one roof with a farmer who was a good advocate for producers. He compares the model to an elevator where producers can have their material processed, marketed, and even stored on site.

The company is now working on programs to move the spent biomass into what remains after extraction. It isn’t a good choice for feed rations, he said, as it contains the wrong type of proteins and there are concerns about residual solvents.

Farmer’s Revival hosted an open house last week, offering tours to growers.

One of the current concerns in the hemp industry is the upcoming implementation of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program Interim Final Rule. He said the Drug Enforcement Agency’s interpretation of one of the gray areas of the virgin hemp market needs clarification. From the time biomass is harvested through extraction, Fritzler said the cannabinoids are concentrated, making the THC level higher than the allowable 0.3 percent level. This product with higher levels of THC is not distributed but continues through the production process before the finished product is distributed to the end user as a THC-free distillate or isolated CBD concentrate.

“It’s all interpretation,” he said. “It’s a virgin market and we’re waiting for some guidance. There’s no way the government will come in and say you can’t extract it because they would basically be banning it again unless you’re doing a hydrocarbon extraction directly into a tincture, which floods the market there and it’s still worthless.”

The comment period on the rule is open until Oct. 20, 2020. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., sent a letter this week to Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting that the final implementation be delayed, to allow for regulators and industry to pen workable rules that will allow the industry to thrive. ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 768-0024.


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