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Apalachee Regional Planning Council Hopes To Strengthen Northwest Florida's Hemp Industry

Close up of a farmer planting a cannabis plant into the ground.
Ryland Zweifel
Adobe Stock
A group servicing Florida's Big Bend is trying to give the region's hemp industry a boost. Their goal is to bring an industrial hemp processing plant to the area.

The Apalachee Regional Planning Council hopes to attract an industrial hemp processing plant to Florida's Big Bend. The council's Melissa Franklin says the nearest processing plant for the state's northwestern hemp farmers is more than three hours away.

"Having a processor within range of the farmers—it's an essential component. If you can't process the crop once it's been harvested, then it's dead in the water," Franklin says.

Franklin says bringing a plant closer to the region will help strengthen the local industry's supply chain.

"Getting more infrastructure onboard is definitely one of our main focuses," Franklin says.

Her group hopes hemp will help create more job opportunities for rural communities. She says that's especially important for the Big Bend because its oyster and timber industries have been devastated in recent years. Her group hopes people in those industries can switch to hemp farming. To get them interested, the council will host a hemp summit in 2022.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.