INTERVIEW: Jamie Campbell Petty is Executive Director at the Midwest Hemp Council, which she co-founded with partners in 2018 to lobby for Indiana hemp legislation and regulations that support farmers and retailers. Named one of the top “100 People to Know in Hemp” by Hemp Connoisseur Magazine 2018, Petty currently serves on the Board of Directors at Friends of Hemp and is on the National Hemp Association’s Standing Committee of Hemp Organizations. She serves as a consultant to Hemp Brand Builders, a brand development and sales organization focused on normalizing hemp products on mainstream shelves, and recently joined Whitefield Global Holdings as Director of Industry and Governmental Relations.
HempToday: Can you take us on a bit of a tour around the Midwest? What would you highlight?
Jamie Campbell Petty: The burgeoning hemp industry is just another example of how the Midwest can adapt and excel, especially within the agriculture sector. Of course, we are especially proud that Indianapolis serves as the Crossroads of America, allowing transport of products from Indianapolis to all points in the continental United States in 19 hours. As the Heartland of America, you will find so many business opportunities, numerous sectors working tirelessly to produce and deliver quality domestic products and services. The Midwest region is rich with innovation, work ethic and opportunity.
HT: With Indiana now under a USDA-approved hemp plan, how’s that going?
JCP: We are happy to have our plan approved. As you may know, Indiana is the only State for whom the Department of Agriculture does not regulate the hemp plan. In Indiana, hemp regulation is managed and conducted by Don Robinson, Seed Administrator with the Indiana State Chemists Office. Don has led this program with the focus on compliance from all sides, while also encouraging and supporting farmer-friendly regulations. Don is always generous with his time in talking with growers and processors about remediation procedures and other hurdles. We are working with Don to ensure that all licensees are cooperating fully with accurate collection and reporting of data.
HT: What are the key provisions in the Indiana plan?
JCP: Testing and remediation are key components. Although there is room for improvement, we are happy with the progress. Midwest Hemp Council will continue to work with Don and the Office of the State Chemist in Indiana as well as in other states, and federally, to ensure we continue to remove unnecessary paperwork and overburdensome testing requirements.
HT: Where are we now with smokable hemp in Indiana? What is the MHC’s position on that subject?
JCP: The Midwest Hemp Council believes in a whole plant economy for the benefit of our farmers and small businesses. Previous court proceedings were halted when the plaintiffs realized the delays were negatively impacting their businesses, along with the unavailability of a hemp flower market. The Indiana 2022 General Assembly is in session, and our team has worked with legislators to offer HB 1043, which would re-legalize smokable hemp. We are hopeful that legislators have had the time to understand the market value, and the impact on our farmers in losing an approximate $300 million dollar market.
HT: What are other changes still needed in Indiana?
JCP: We need dependable, quality processors for all things hemp. Just as importantly, we need the support of legislators to focus on removing any hurdles for quality, cooperative farmers.
HT: How are Midwestern farmers now feeling after the CBD bust? What’s their temperature at the moment?
JCP: Very frustrated, generally speaking. And that has spilled over into the grain and fiber sentiment as well. However, we feel 2022 will be the year we move forward, slowly and steadily, to continue building a solid foundation for this industry.
HT: What can you say about the contributions of all those agriculture schools throughout the Midwest. What’s the status of hemp in curricula and research at those schools?
JCP: Amazing! Of course, Indiana is so grateful for the work of Dr. Ron Turco and Marguerite Bolt at Purdue University. Just as importantly, Marguerite has a strong working relationship with so many other schools, especially Phillip Alberti at Illinois, Shelby Ellison at Wisconsin and James DeDecker at Michigan State.
HT: How would you characterize funding at the state level among Midwestern states. What needs to happen there? How can the states better support the industry?
JCP: I believe that some states have apparently seen the benefits in supporting research and implementation of hemp as a crop; however, as to Indiana, we have had little to no funds made available for hemp. It is a very real struggle for us. I believe that Illinois and Ohio are feeling the same pain. Of course, to the south, Kentucky has been the leader in providing so much support to their growers, and we wish all states would consider that same path.
HT: Tell us about your new role at Whitefield Global Holdings.
JCP: I have spent the past ten years with the grassroots, non-profit sector of the hemp industry. I will remain active and participatory, not just with Midwest Hemp Council, but work with NHA’s SCOHO Committee and other developing opportunities. In fact, Whitefield is coming alongside Midwest Hemp Council as our newest strategic partner, allowing MHC to expand our footprint with communications and education. Whitefield Global Holdings is comprised of individuals and entities with whom I have spent a great deal of time; it is clear to me that we share the same goals for the hemp industry. We have a strong group of experienced leaders in agribusiness, agronomy, manufacturing, insurance and marketing to create a transparent, consistent and collaborative group to lead production in this new chapter for food, fuel and fiber. Members of the team include Whitefield Ag, Assure Group, GrowTech Industries and HPP. I am so excited to join the team as Director of Industry and Governmental Relations, where my passion and knowledge of the industry will contribute to our growth, and just as importantly, the growth of the entire hemp industry. It has, and will continue to be, a priority for me to encourage and facilitate collaboration and cooperation among businesses and non-profits to grow this industry.
HT: And your new board position at Hemp Brand Builders?
JCP: Yes, principle David King created Hemp Brand Builders to utilize his lifetime of experience and success to benefit the hemp supply chain. I was happy to join David in launching Hemp Brand Builders in early 2021, and assist in bringing all things hemp to mainstream retail. Hemp Brand Builders exponential growth is a direct result of quality cannabinoid and hemp leads teaming with David King to ensure their ingredients or brands reach shelf space. Along with numerous projects where hemp is being incorporated into food or cosmetics, Hemp Brand Builders is about to launch a multiple-vendor cannabinoid program with a big box store that will be of benefit to all involved.
HT: What do you have on the farm?
JCP: A whole lot of love! We have two quarter horses two miniature donkeys, several dozen chicken, five barn cats and our four Redbone Coonhounds that are convinced our living room is their domain, not ours! My Husband and I are most proud of the fact that since moving into our property in 2010, we have learned to grow and process our own food, year round. We love having friends and family over to share food, work and play! And, especially during covid, we are reminded how blessed we are to have created our own little world where we are very close to being off-grid, working together each day, and able to depend almost solely on our own resources to live.