The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) recently announced the hiring of a new executive director and a new initiative to establish a national hemp checkoff program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The HIA says it has partnered with the National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) to explore the creation of a hemp marketing checkoff program, which would promote hemp as a commodity and expand market opportunities for industry participants.
Checkoff programs are funded through assessments on the produced commodity at the first point of sale, the HIA says. They allow producers to pool resources for research, education and promotion efforts to advance sales and improve production practices.
The HIA says the USDA currently oversees 23 checkoff programs, from cotton to Christmas trees.
“Today is another step forward in the right direction for hemp farmers and consumers of hemp-related products,” says Patrick Atagi, board chairman of the NIHC, in a news release. “A checkoff program further legitimizes a rapidly growing industry and will help hemp farmers compete on a level playing field with producers of other agricultural-related commodities.”
The organizations say they expect to form a working group with representatives from across the industry that would discuss the details of how a hemp checkoff would be structured and operate. The efforts of the working group would guide the development of a proposal to submit to the USDA that will include an industry analysis, justification for the program, program objectives and the impact on small businesses.
While efforts around a national checkoff program grow, the state of Montana recently started its own hemp checkoff program, making it the first state in the nation to do so.
New Executive Director
Meanwhile, the HIA also recently hired Jody McGinness as the new executive director, a position that has been empty since the departure of Colleen Lanier at the end of 2019 after a three-year period.
“It was an exhaustive process with nearly 100 very qualified applicants,” says HIA President Rick Trojan in a news release. “We wanted someone with a strong record of leadership when it comes to revamping non-profits, empowering diverse teams for success and strategic planning and alignment.”
McGinness has more than 20 years of experience in leading associations and membership organizations in the nonprofit sector, the HIA says in a news release.
Most recently, he served as the head of fundraising for the Marijuana Policy Project. In that time, the organization campaigned successfully to pass adult-use legalization legislation in Illinois and Vermont as well as engineering the passage of medical cannabis legalization in Utah.
"I'm thrilled to be joining the HIA team at what is truly a pivotal moment for the association and the industry,” McGinness says in a news release. “It is truly exciting to have an opportunity to partner with such a dedicated and capable group of staff and volunteer leaders to help chart a course to delivering increased values to members across all sectors of the burgeoning hemp economy.