GREAT FALLS- Providing Montana farmers and ranchers with another crop option motivated Montana Farmers Union President Alan Merrill to seek out a partnership with Farmers Union Enterprises, Inc. (FUE) to provide funding research to understand the feasibility of producing Industrial Hemp fibers for us in building materials.

Teaming up with Farmers Union member Kirby Hancock, founder of Transformative Ecologies LLC, and architect at Constructive Solutions Inc. working in collaboration with Montana State University Engineering faculty Dr. Michael Berry and Dr. Kirsten Matteson, the funding will cover research and testing. The study will include decorticating (or husking) raw hemp stalks, mixing and prototyping Hempcrete samples, product performance testing and Hempcrete construction applications. “There is so much potential and possibility with hemp,” said Hancock. “It can help solve some of the many modern challenges faced today.  It is great to be collaborating with FUE and MSU to further its development and create impact that can improve both the environment and economy for current and future generations to come.”

MFU has conducted several seminars on the uses and production of hemp in Montana. Here a panel discusses the future of hemp  at the 2018 MFU Convention. Pictured: Laura Garber, Colby Johnson & Kirby Hancock.

MFU President Alan Merrill is a wheat farmer and has served as Montana Farmers Union President since 2006. In his role, Merrill also serves on the board of directors for FUE.  Merrill is encouraged by the future of Hempcrete in the building industry. “If testing results show opportunity to return a profit, it could lead to much needed processing opportunities for our state, increasing demand for industrial hemp and the farmers and ranchers who raise it. The opportunity to offer Montana farmers an additional crop to produce for a new and growing market is of great importance to our farmers and our organization.”

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