Industrial hemp is an ancient fiber crop. In contrast to medicinal cannabis, industrial hemp varieties contain only low levels of THC. At state level, the production of industrial hemp crops is subject to government regulation that requires farmers to acquire licenses to grow certified low-THC cultivars. In 2017, the Australian Parliament passed legislation that permits the use of industrial hemp seed and seed-derived products for human consumption in Australia. This has opened new market opportunities for industrial hemp that is expected to drive rapid industry growth.
That industry growth must be underpinned by increased production in certified industrial hemp seed. This requires (amongst other factors) attracting new producers to the industry with credible information about hemp cultivars and their suitability for cropping in Australia.
AgriFutures Australia has identified industrial hemp as an emerging industry with the potential to exceed $10 million annual gross value of production by 2025. AgriFutures Australia considers variety performance testing and agronomy trials as a high-priority investment for the industry and intends to provide seed funding for a national hemp cultivar trial scheme.