SLATON, Texas (KCBD) – A hemp drying and separating facility is expected to bring more jobs to Slaton and additional opportunities for farmers as it gets up and running in the next few months.
“It’ll all be fully functional before the harvest is taking place,” Slaton hemp producer Chris Bednarz said. “We’ve got growers in about three different counties and everything will be coming to the Slaton facility to be be processed. We’re bringing 15 jobs and some money to the local economy and opportunity for some farmers to grow a different crop and diversify a little bit from cotton.”
Bednarz helped facilitate the establishment of the Delta Agriculture Partner’s processing plant in Slaton. After 26 years of farming, Bednarz turned to the idea of growing hemp and toured the Delta Ag facility in Colorado where they’ve been in operation since 2016.
“We went out there and toured their facility and their farms and their fields when they were harvesting and processing and drying,” Bednarz said. “I saw it was big-ag style. It wasn’t a little garden-style crop out there. I just thought West Texas is wide open country and farmers do things big here. I saw the opportunity to bring it here without a lot of extra equipment cost.”
It took about a year of discussion and search for a spot to establish the facility, which will dry and separate hemp into raw goods, like hemp flower, seed, and stalk. The flower will be sold to CBD extractors to make CBD products like isolates and oils.
Bednarz tells KCBD about 1,000 acres of hemp has been planted in those three counties. Delta Ag said it will provide genetics, consulting, and harvesting to help farmers with the new crop. After the hemp has been harvested, Delta Ag will transport it to the facility in North Slaton.
“What’s kind of unique about [local farmers] is that they’re going to have a lot of acres under their belt so their market footprint will be will be big,” Bednarz said. “They’ll be able to come in at a good price, provide a very consistent product and be able to, no matter how big orders are, they’ll be able to fill them. That is appealing to some extraction companies because they don’t have to go find small lots or small acreages for multiple people, they’ll just be able to come to Delta Ag and be able to purchase everything they needed, the quantity, the date and the consistency.”
Marketing of the product is also set to be handled by Delta Ag. Bednarz said he’s been impressed with that and the profit potential of the crop.
“I think it’s going to provide some potential for some farmers to put a little extra money in your pocket,” Bednarz said. “The last few years have been challenging and will continue to be, but hopefully this will help a few guys out.”