Industrial hemp will be a "multi-billion dollar industry" within 10 years' time, the body dedicated to its promotion predicts.
North East farmers curious about the benefits the crop could provide attended a conference held by the Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance at Wodonga TAFE on Thursday night.
The AIHA recently created a Victorian chapter and is holding numerous meetings around the state.
Victoria lags behind industry leader Tasmania in cultivation of industrial hemp, which is low-THC cannabis used for its seed and fibre.
AIHA secretary Charles Kovess said it was the result of a "chicken and egg" situation.
"Markets want hemp products but can't get it, and farmers don't know what those markets are," he said.
"When you take the seed off the crop, you have the remaining stalk, and with that fibre and hurd there can be seven products.
"You have got clothes and textiles, weed matting, edible bailing twine, and insulation instead of fibreglass.
"Then with the hurd products are 'hempcrete' - this building we're standing in could be built using it - garden mulch, and animal bedding.
"The Queen only uses hemp hurd for her horses."
The conference heard that there are currently 17 approved growers in Victoria this year, with many being in the western areas of the state.
There are none currently in the North East.
Gus Lobb of Mansfield said the numerous government restrictions around growing industrial hemp seemed too burdensome.
"You can't have the crop growing exposed near a road, and that's pretty much my property," he said.
"I do film production but was interested in what I could do with my land; I also looked at garlic."
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There are also fees involved, such as gaining a licence to grow industrial hemp, and having inspectors visitor each season to take samples to test the THC levels.
It's not often that the sample comes back above the approved level, which is less than 0.35 per cent THC.
Ironically, the THC level increases when the plant "is stressed", the forum heard.
Mr Kovess said once the stigma about industrial hemp was gone, and the markets lined up, it would take off.
He said there could be $2000 to $6000 return to farmers per hectare, though farmers would need to invest in on-farm equipment for the separation of the product.
"That decortication process needs to be close to where it is growing - ideally not travelling further than 50 kilometres - because the stalk is quite voluminous," he said.
"You can never access a huge opportunity without risks and problems.
"But staying in a dairy industry that gives you no return is not a choice.
"We see hemp as ticking all of the boxes for farmers to have magnificent livelihoods."
Stuart Gordon of CSIRO confirmed the benefits and described hemp seed oil as the "plant fish oil" with omega levels comparable to flaxseed oil.
"It's a tasty and nutritious seed and is really ready for the health market," he said.
"That market will take off with supply.
"Since the seed crop appears to be the thing, we want to think about what to do with the fiber and the rest of the product."
Changes to the law in 2017 allowing edible hemp products to be sold and consumed has seen the Australian market grow, but there are still inconsistencies with law and Dr Gordon hopes trials will be done to determine what varieties suit different areas, as "there is high variability".
A good yield for industrial hemp is considered to be 500 kilograms to one tonne from one hectare.
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