IND HEMP in Fort Benton is committed to educating the community about the hemp industry, and while their fiber facility may not be up and running yet, it will soon be used to help break down hemp straw while at their other facility that they will be processing oil and seed for food and animal consumption.
Now, they're expanding into adding new jobs in Montana while teaching consumers on the importance of hemp.
One of the long-term goals of IND HEMP is to build a more sustainable future to produce high-quality hemp for a wide variety of industries and consumers, and one of the main ways to do this, is through the practice of regenerative farming.
"Hemp has a unique root structure. It does a lot of great things for your soil. It also provides a lot more nutrition than some other crops, so it's fantastic when you're looking at the farmer's perspective of what value they can see in their operation," explained co-founder Morgan Tweet explained.
"Philosophically we align with regenerative agriculture. We're trying to take care of the soils and we're trying to farm more sustainably and be good stewards of the land. Regenerative practices include no till operations, similar to organic, where we're using less pesticides and herbicides, if none at all, and Hemp is a great rotation for that because it outcompetes a lot of weeds," she continued.
Thinking long-term goals, Tweet said, "regenerative ag is a much bigger concept and it's not just for hemp, but we try to work with growers because we think that's really important when we talk about the amount of soil that's left and what is the next 50 years of agriculture will look like. We're going to have to substantially change the practices that are being implemented right now. Hemp is part of a wholistic approach. It's not the answer, it's just part of the answer."
As IND HEMP continues to expand, they will be looking for extra hands, but with the challenges of being in a small town and finding the right talent, IND Hemp plans to expand upon their selections.
"We plan on adding probably between 25 and 30 additional positions to our facilities within the next eight to 12 months, maybe even 18 months. It's going to be tricky," HR manager Jennifer Rose explained. "As we all know, the talent pool is dwindling as we speak. We plan on reaching out to surrounding communities, and potentially even reaching beyond the state of Montana and bringing people to North Central Montana."
With the fiber facility on the verge of operating, IND HEMP says there is still a lot to learn from the farming perspective as well as what their downstream customers want.
"There's still a lot to learn from the farming perspective. How to harvest it, what the management practices are for that, as well as what do our downstream customers want," Tweet said about the next steps. "Our goal for the next two to three years is to continue to grow our portfolio products and our customer base. Maybe even add additional capacity, whether its additional technologies that get us to that next step in the supply chain or just growing the business in general."