Third generation dairy farmer Tom Welch has explained why he stopped farming dairy and started growing hemp.
The New Zealand Welch family has farmed the same plot of land for 90 years, focusing on rearing cattle for their milk, now, the farm has turned to plants to keep up with current trends.
The dairy milk market has seen a decline over recent years with more members of the general public instead choosing a plant-based alternative, whether for ethical, environmental or health-based reasons.
Tom Welch discussed the farm’s decision to change to farming hemp in an interview with the New Zealand Herald.
“It’s just the mass industrialisation of it, it doesn’t always sit right,” Tom Welch said when discussing why they stopped farming dairy.
“Dairying was challenging in the wrong ways, the bureaucracy – and I know that sounds funny when you’re looking at the bureaucracy that we’re standing in. But look at this –
we’re doing it,” Welch said.
“A year ago, I wouldn’t have known a thing about hemp. I would have never even thought of growing it.
“We were looking around at the things we could grow and we said let’s have a go at hemp,” Welch said.
“Anyone can grow hemp so long as the Ministry of Health is happy that you qualify for a licence, and you’re not going to be an issue drug-wise,” Welch said.
“The reality is there’s nothing wrong with the leaf, there’s no reason why anyone couldn’t own it or have it. What is it going to do? It’s not a drug.”
“I think we are only scratching the surface with what we can do with hemp and, in fact, what we are forced to do with hemp in the future – for example fuel, building materials, all of it,” Welch said.