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Southern Hemp Expo Brings Supply Chain Together in Raleigh

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Southern Hemp Expo Brings Supply Chain Together in Raleigh


Southern Hemp Expo Brings Supply Chain Together in Raleigh

Trade show gathers leaders in hemp industry and agriculture all under one roof, plans ahead for Denver’s NoCo Hemp Expo in March, 2022

What: Southern Hemp Expo brings together expanding U.S. hemp supply chain in 3-day trade show and conference
When: Thursday, Sept. 2 – Saturday Sept. 4
Where: Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, NC

RALEIGH, NC (September 9, 2021) – Southern Hemp Expo brought together the expanding U.S. hemp industry Sept. 2-4 in Raleigh, NC for the largest trade show and conference on the East Coast covering the entire supply chain.

The 3rd annual Southern Hemp Expo (SHE3) featured more than 100 exhibitors and speakers on three floors of the Raleigh Convention Center. The expo showcased the range of hemp applications — from botanicals to bioplastics, genetics to farm equipment, plant-based protein foods to building materials, guitars, textiles, feminine care products and much more.

Thursday’s Business Conference on Sept. 2 brought industry leaders together to look at the future of industrial hemp. The theme of the conference was “ReTHINK hemp.”

“We as an industry need to rethink how we’re going to take hemp from where it is now into the future,” said Morris Beegle, welcoming attendees. The president and co-founder of We Are for Better Alternatives (WAFBA) said the maturing hemp industry has a role to play in helping the Earth. 

“We are taking the steps to make a truly robust industry that can change the world,” Beegle said.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Uma Dhanabalan, a Massachusetts-based trailblazer in cannabis medicine extolled the medical virtues of cannabis for ailments such as inflammation, PTSD and other health issues, as it interacted with the human endocannabinoid system

“Cannabis is an entrance drug to a better quality of life and an exit drug from pharmaceuticals, narcotics, alcohol and nicotine,” she said. “Medical cannabis is not for everyone, but it should be a choice,” she added.

Sponsors for the Southern Hemp Expo included North Carolina-based CBD wholesaler CannaAid as well as Benchmark CBD, EarthXEast Coast Hemp Supply Co. Franny’s FarmacyGRENex and Hemp Extraction.

International Competition/Regulatory Uncertainty
“I’m very very bullish on the hemp market,” cannabis data economist Beau Whitney, of Whitney Economics told conference attendees. Hemp is on track to become the fourth largest row crop in the United States after corn, soy and cotton, he said.

“Opportunities in the areas of fiber and grain are astronomical, dwarfing the CBD market,” he said. “This is just the beginning, this isn’t the end. If [hemp industry leaders] hang on you’re going to be rewarded later on,” he added.

But challenges await, including international competition, as 65 other countries are moving forward to bring hemp online, he warned. 

Also, the Food and Drug Administration’s foot-dragging on regulating hemp as food and dietary supplements is causing investors to feel “spooked,” he noted. 

“Regulatory uncertainty is the greatest challenge to the U.S. hemp industry,” Whitney said. “It’s important for policy makers to get out of the way and let this industry take off,” he added. 

Taking Stock
As the hemp industry has matured, especially in the southeast United States, the Southern Hemp Expo was a good way to build connections for the future, said Blake Butler, head of the Southeast Hemp Association.

“The expo is giving us perfect timing to grow a new level of collaboration,” Butler told Let’s Talk Hemp. “We need to be on the same page more than ever before. The next two years will be so important in determining [the hemp industry’s] collective voice to create change at the national level,” he added. 

Regenerative Message Unites U.S.
Southern Hemp Expo business conference sponsor EarthX’s mission overlaps with the U.S. hemp industry, including goals of shortening the carbon cycle, reducing pollution, bioremediation and sustainable agriculture, said Michael Fletcher, CEO of EarthX.

“To solve today’s challenges the earth needs a champion that unites all ages and all political affiliations,” Fletcher said. 

Like industrial hemp’s comeback in U.S. agriculture, which has crossed political divides and received bi-partisan support, EarthX believes in the power of collaboration and “brings all sides together to solve problems,” Fletcher said. “What’s stopping [the hemp] industry from really growing? We want to amplify that conversation,” Fletcher added.

Farm Symposium
The Let’s Talk Hemp Farm Symposium on Sept. 3 drew interest from agricultural producers from all over the South. 

Visitors viewed specialty hemp harvesting, planting and processing equipment from Bish Enterprises, Formation Ag and others. 

Small family operations said they were inspired by the collaborative generosity of other, more experienced producers, such as North Carolina’s Franny’s Farmacy CEO Franny Tracy.

A Women in Hemp event after the 2018 Farm Bill inspired female founders of Sanford, NC-based Hemp Family Farms to register as organic hemp farmers in 2019, said Byron Cameron, VP of sales. The company’s product line, which includes pet CBD products, is all handmade by family members.

“We watch Netflix and hand-strip buds out in the country,” Cameron joked. 

SHE3 was the company’s first trade show. “We’ve made contacts and met people. This is going to change the game for us,” Cameron told Let’s Talk Hemp.

Carbon Offset Revenue
Taking advantage of hemp’s superior carbon sequestering properties (5 metric tons per acre while photosynthesizing) could give hemp farmers an extra financial incentive to grow for carbon credit offsets, said Ben Banks-Dobson, of Hudson Carbon. Regenerative farming principles could result in even more carbon-sequestering effects, he said.

Other agriculture experts agreed: “If we want this industry to grow to its potential we have to grow regeneratively,” said Kelly Ann Flynn, Clemson University’s Emerging Crops Program coordinator. “Hopefully this will be the new status quo going forward,” she added.

Textiles, Plastics, Paper, Women’s Sanitary Products, Building Materials
Non-cannabinoid, industrial uses of hemp were also well-represented at the trade show. 

Renewing hemp’s textile dominance in the U.S. after it was outlawed and demonized for 80 years of prohibition fascinates the textile industry, said Heidi Custer of Bedford, PA-based Tuscarora Mills.

“It’s an amazing plant with incredibly strong fiber that used to do all the rigging of ships,” Custer told Let’s Talk Hemp. Long-lasting hemp garments help counter the environmental waste in the fashion industry, Custer said.

“Many people don’t want to contribute to the waste with disposable garments,” she said. “It’s worth it to me to buy something a little more expensive made of natural fiber that doesn’t pollute the water – and I can hand it down to my daughter.”

Additive printing with hemp bioplastic filament has endless potential, said Joe Naumann, of Seward, NE-based Hemp3D. The company sells bio-based and biodegradable hemp sunglasses, earrings, keychains and other specialty items, sourcing hemp plastic for filament from c2Renew in South Dakota.

“I have met and networked with tons of people from all across the country,” Naumann told Let’s Talk Hemp. “We’re excited about how we can grow and collaborate with people.”

Hemp Paper
Rock City Falls, NY-based Cottrell Paper has been recycling fibers from waste denim, cotton and other non-wood materials since the 1920s, said Tom Harrington, the company’s sales manager. Cottrell has been printing 100% hemp papers this year, with an aim to supply the cannabis and hemp packaging market with hemp folding boxes, paper bags and tubes.

“We feel that there certainly will be a market for hemp papers due to the many benefits over kraft [wood] based papers, however it is important to note that the fiber is significantly more expensive and very difficult and time-consuming to produce,” Harrington told Let’s Talk Hemp. 

Cottrell wants hemp companies to show that they are “good stewards to the environment” with their packaging options. The company also sought suppliers for separated hemp fibers.

“Our [Southern Hemp Expo] objectives were met and we look forward to furthering our journey at the next event,” Harrington added.

Processing Opportunities
Rebuilding the hemp supply chain opens up opportunities for regional processing plants, said Ryan Doherty of Colorado-based Hemp Ventures

“Hemp farmers are diversifying their crop usage and turning CBD acreage into a dual- or tri-crop with fiber and grain,” Doherty told Let’s Talk Hemp. 

As hemp fiber becomes more tangible in the marketplace, “infrastructure is starting to come online to bridge the gap between the farm product and the end user-manufacturer,” he said. 

Sanitary Products
Nashville-based Trace Femcare will be rolling out hemp-based women’s sanitary products, starting with tampons, in 2022, said Olaf Isele, head of strategic product development. 

The hemp feminine products will avoid chemical processing from cotton and petroleum-based fibers in ordinary women’s products, he said. 

“Menstruation is a biological process,” Isele said. “We are connecting hemp and organic cotton plant fibers to that symbolic significance in our culture,” he said. “We want to make a product that at the same time regenerates the earth and enriches the soil,” he added. 

Building Materials
Hemp products used in construction materials – already tried-and-tested in Europe for 30 years – are growing in the United States. Construction advocates see hemp as a solution to the carbon footprint and landfill waste of the construction industry.

U.S. hemp builders are creating new products and methods, said Jacob Waddell, president of the US Hemp Building Association.

“What we are seeing is innovation starting to develop in applications that will build the competitive marketplace,” Waddell told Let’s Talk Hemp. 

But the industry is also collaborating to achieve certifications to include hemp materials in U.S. building codes.

“The hurdles with getting hemp into the building codes are really industrywide,” Waddell said. “Collaboration is a smart move for everyone and I think everyone’s seeing that,” he added.

NoCo Hemp Expo Coming March 24-26, 2022 in Denver
Southern Hemp Expo organizers said it’s not too soon to start making plans to attend the company’s flagship hemp trade show, the NoCo Hemp Expo, which will arrive in Denver March 24-26, 2022, for its 8th year.

“As the industry matures, we have even more confidence that the Hemp Revolution and this platform will provide solutions that will restore this planet and bring economic prosperity,” said Morris Beegle, event organizer.

About WAFBA and Colorado Hemp Company
We Are For Better Alternatives (WAFBA) is committed to researching and developing better alternatives so that hemp can once again thrive, prosper, and help individuals and communities throughout America and around the globe. The Colorado Hemp Company, the producer of the 3rd Annual Southern Hemp Expo, is a leading organization for the advancement and advocacy of hemp farming, processing, production, innovation, education, and legalization in the USA. The entire team is committed to researching and developing alternatives so that hemp can once again thrive and help individuals and communities throughout America and around the globe. 

Steven Hoffman, Compass Natural, 303.807.1042,
Morris Beegle, Colorado Hemp Company, 970.541.0448,

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