The Montana Department of Agriculture has released a Hemp Marketplace — an online portal where hemp producers can list their products for sale and consumers can buy the hemp products listed.
“Producers are definitely happy with the marketplace. Some of them are looking for any opportunity to sell. On the other side of the market, we have people looking to try new things, and would like to see raw hemp and knowing where to start in finding hemp producers, so it's a great tool for them as well,” said Ben Thomas, director of the Montana Department of Agriculture.
The marketplace has gained positive attention from across the country. However, only licensed Montana hemp producers are allowed to sell their product through the online marketplace. As for consumers, they do not need to be a Montana resident to buy the listed products, as the marketplace is open to all consumers.
“We wanted to create a place where people could list what products they have or list what they wanted to buy, and by checking that website regularly, hopefully we are able to make some connections,” Thomas said.
With the steady number of hemp producers, the Montana Department of Agriculture saw a need for an online marketplace for hemp products to be listed. So they drew inspiration from one of their other online portals to help bring the Hemp Marketplace to life.
“We actually modeled the Hemp Marketplace after one of our other models we used for hay. The hay idea kind of started with the droughts we have had the past couple years. We found we needed to make a similar marketplace for hay, and we had success there, so we wanted to give it a try with hemp,” Thomas said.
Hemp is picking up popularity with producers in the region, as the crop gives farmers a unique opportunity to try something new while utilizing the equipment they may already have.
“Hemp is just different. It's a specialty crop, and a lot of the same equipment we already have transfers over to the production of hemp,” said Chris Adams, a North Dakota and Minnesota hemp producer and board member of the U.S. Hemp Growers Association.
While the U.S. hemp market is currently unsteady, Adams believes that will change.
“Ten years from now, the U.S. is going to have a big impact on the market,” Adams said.
In addition, Adams would like to see a hemp marketplace available for each state or on a federal level.
“I think it is a great idea. I know on the hemp board that I am on that we would love to do something like the Montana Hemp Marketplace on a federal level for every state. There is nothing bad that can come out of it. I think it's a great idea. The fact that the state’s ag department supports it is even better. It just adds a bit of integrity of it all,” Adams said.
For producers interested in listing their hemp products on the marketplace or consumers looking for hemp products, visit https://agr.mt.gov/Topics/Topics-H-N/Hemp-Marketplace.