Friday, June 17, 2011

Senate Bill 676 Will Allow Kern County Farmers to Grow Industrial Hemp on their Land

>Industrial Hemp has made its way back on the agenda in Sacramento with SB 676 proposed by Mark Leno the San Francisco/Marin County State Senator. It is the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011. Similar bills were vetoed by previous Governor Schwartzenegger. The bill establishes a five county pilot project for growing Industrial Hemp. The Counties which will be allowed to grow hemp if this bill passes are Imperial, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin and Yolo Counties.

Industrial Hemp has a variety of uses from clothing, foods (breads, energy bars, etc.), health, beauty products, and paper products. Tens of thousands of products use hemp. The bill states that only these counties can grow industrial hemp with 5 acres minimum, and with no upper acreage limit. It must be for agricultural use or research. Farmers must test the hemp for THC content and destroy crops with an excessive THC count. Industrial Hemp looks like the narcotic marijuana plant, but it has very low levels of THC. Thus its used only for industrial purposes. There are other regulations in order to not disguise Hemp with the Marijuana version such as no clandestine or backyard growing will be allowed.

Federal Law enforced by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) prohibited the growing and cultivation of Industrial Hemp, as the DEA regarded Industrial Hemp as a controlled substance like Marijuana. The DEA’s claim was recently over-ruled by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004 as the court stipulated that the DEA has no authority over the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. Farmers were allowed to grow hemp but the extra security, fencing, and DEA regulation were cost prohibited.

Here are some positive facts regarding hemp versus tree paper. Hemp paper doesn’t require toxic bleaching chemicals. It can be whitened with hydrogen peroxide, which doesn’t poison waterways as chloride and bleach do with the chemicals used in making wood pulp paper. Hemp paper can be recycled 7 to 8 times, compared with only 3 times for wood pulp paper. An acre of hemp produces as much paper as four acres of trees annually. It requires little or no pesticides or herbicides and produces two to four times more fiber than an acre of timber. It grows rapidly and can be harvested every 90 days and it is an ideal rotational crop. It also continues with the going green viewpoint of California as many trees will be saved. This “new” product will create jobs for Antelope Valley.

This may be a great opportunity for Kern County land owners as this would be a beginning of a need for available land. If this project succeeds then Antelope Valley may also be allowed to grow hemp as most of the available land in agricultural land, and it would be an ideal location. This “new” product will also create jobs for Antelope Valley.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Alas More Funds for The Cal High Speed Rail, But Will it Stop in Palmdale?

In 2008 voters approved nearly $10 billion in state bonds to fund the Cal High Speed Rail project under Proposition 1A and now this past month Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took Florida’s $2 billion and gave it to 15 states and Amtrak. Florida’s new governor and legislator rejected their high speed rail, California gets a new $300 million which will be used to continue laying the groundwork for the nation’s first 220 mph high speed rail system in the state. The initial plan according to federal and Rail officials would be to run along the Central Valley as it would be the least expensive to begin. This is an essential part of the Obama Administrations proposed shovel ready projects. Thus the lion’s share of the $3.5 billion provided by the Obama administration must be spent on the rail line running between the tiny towns of Borden and Corcoran, Ca. Borden is outside of Merced and Corcoran is next to nowhere and is best known for its prison.
This can be chalked up to California’s continual poor planning as the CalHighSpeedRail Authority indicated earlier that there will be no ridership on the first phase. We believe they guarantee that with starting in sparsely populated Borden and Corcoran. Another issue that bogs the speedy trains is the disagreement with running the train from Bakersfield to Los Angeles via Lancaster and Palmdale Ca. Many including the LA Times writers want the direct route via Hwy 5 through the grapevine. They indicate it will save $1billion, and 30 miles. Yet, isn’t the trains objective to carry passengers? Bypassing Palmdale would eliminate potentially 700 thousand potential riders in Palmdale, Lancaster and Victorville. If the train is not potentially a commuter train, then why build it in urban areas like San Diego, LA, and San Jose, or it is only a train to compete with SouthWest airlines?
The final southern route into LA County will be debated, but there looks to be plenty of new opportunities along Hwy 99 as the White House and Governor Brown administration will not stand in the way of this moving train. Will it be a sign of more government waste by Democratic administrations, or a future jewel of the West U.S. Most land along Hwy 99 is farmland as we have been saying all along the farmers are the best long term land bankers over time. Check out our land along the future potential route in Lancaster Ca. via so you can be a land banker too.