MINNEAPOLIS — Strolling around the Minneapolis Convention Center on Nov. 4 at the Minnesota Ag and Food Summit, I corralled Harold Stanislawski — always a good interview. Stanislawski is the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) Business Development Director and one of my favorite ‘off the cuff’ guys. To break the ice, I started off with a powder-puff question like this one: What’s ahead for the Minnesota hemp industry?
I, and many other ag writers, have been writing with jangling ecstasy what the rebirth of this once-fabled crop might add to the future of Minnesota agriculture.
“One of the biggest projects right now is the Erosion Control Mat program with the Minnesota Department of Transportation,” Stanislawski revealed. “That program is all about using hemp in hydro-mulch erosion control mats and erosion logs. This is a three-year project funded by LCCMR (Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources
) funds from the state of Minnesota. If proven successful, this could open a pretty good market for hemp fiber.”
“We are fortunate in Minnesota,” Stanislawski went on to say. “We have three erosion control companies in our state and another close by in Wisconsin. I think we are working with some of the finest private sector folks in the industry. Plus working with Minnesota Transportation Department engineers and Riley Gordon in our AURI lab makes this a good-looking project at this stage.”
I asked Stanislawski about any new developments in the hemp-crete product arena. “We intend to soon be working with a building project in the Fargo-Moorhead area,” he said. “They’re talking a tiny home made out of hemp-crete. I don’t have dimensions, but this will be a live-in home in the downtown Fargo-Moorhead area. So lots of things continuing with this crop.”
The ag economy is always a bumpy road — none so more than the past couple of years. Stanislawski’s take on what’s ahead is brimming with positive tones. “Yes, some challenges in the supply chain these days,” he admitted, “but come spring, we’ll be planting another crop and we’ll harvest another crop. And we’re going to get through current malarkey with some battles here and there. But we’ll get through it … because we have too! That’s the American spirit.”
“I’m a firm believer the innovative abilities of rural America will always carry us through. We’re going to work our way through these current issues … even improve on the good things we’re doing right now.”
I knew Stanislawski wouldn’t duck around a tough question, so I asked him if there is still a future of imitation meats? “I think branded meats — from local, sustainable farms — have a bright future. We’re involved right now in mobile meat slaughtering where you can do slaughtering right on the farm with state and federal inspection — both poultry and meats. Poultry we already have a viable network in place; and soon we hope to launch a project with one of our beef collaborators. And yes, USDA inspectors are right there on site.”
With that I let Stanislawski go on his way, confident he and AURI will be developing more new products and markets in the future; and we’ll have more to talk about next time we meet.