LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- The hemp revolution continues in New Mexico, with the potential for a sustainable crop that boosts jobs, local economies and state tax revenues. That, after all, was the whole reason the state Legislature supported making hemp a legal crop.
This week came the most recent sign that hemp remains a growth industry. 420 Valley LLC announced it will open a hemp production business in Doña Ana County, locating in a 13,000-square-foot facility at 420 S. Valley Drive in Las Cruces, eventually employing 55 people after it opens in the summer of 2020.
To help the company start up, the New Mexico Economic Development Department has pledged more than $400,000 in assistance for what it believes is a smart investment in a cash crop for New Mexico’s future. And the city of Las Cruces is also investing an additional $150,000 in the project.
It’s all part of a strategy from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that identifies industries that will help New Mexico diversify its economy. Value-added agriculture is a key sector the governor believes can boost the state’s bottom line.
"Like the governor likes to say, hemp is rope not dope and so this is a great opportunity for these farmers to not only sell their crops to processing companies like 420, but to sell it outside the state too," said Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Alicia Keyes.
420 Valley LLC specializes in cultivating hemp and then extracting and refining the oil into manufactured products like vape pens, edibles and hemp-infused drinks. The company is planing for their building to include an indoor grow facility and manufacturing space, along with a retail shop and café.
The crop is logical for New Mexico's suitable climate. Hemp grows well with less water and in high temperatures and can be used in some 25,000 products. That hemp is a crop possibility at all is due to the 2018 Farm Bill, which essentially legalized growing hemp across the nation. The growth potential is impressive, with the Hemp Business Journal predicting overall industry growth nationally from $820 million just two years ago to $2.1 billion by next year.
"This year in the state of New Mexico was the first year we were allowed to grow hemp, and we licensed over 400 companies to grow," said state Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte.
Some believe hemp will eventually rank with green chile and pecans as money makers for the state of New Mexico.