The company New Mexico Hemp Services recently secured a $250,000 state grand to give job training for hemp industry workers in the state. The funds are part of a $2 million Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) from the state, the Associated Press reports. New Mexico Hemp Services is one of 10 businesses to receive a grant. The funds awarded for 2020 will jump to $10 million.
A total of 17 employees will be trained at an average wage of $19.42 per hour. The jobs include lab technicians, extraction chemists, storage clerks, and an electrician. The JTIP reimburses 50-75% of wages for the classroom and on the job training.
The state instituted rules allowing hemp to be cultivated in 2018 as long as farmers work with New Mexico State University. The university is working closely with farmers to learn to cultivate the crop. They are currently testing the waters, using this year as a learning year. As farmers get more confident that hemp is a crop that can net profit, they will expand operations in the coming years.
Farmers are cautious in their optimism, using this year for trial and error. Even with a significant $1.1 million investment, Duke Rodriguez of Ultra Health isn’t going to estimate how profitable the crop is until after the harvest numbers come in November. One of the reasons for doubt is the thought that these first crops will test too high for THC, falling above their legal limit.
Hemp is still driving many people to it with the Department of Agriculture taking a much friendlier approach than the New Mexico Department of Health. That coupled with startup costs being only a couple hundred thousand dollars as opposed to millions to cultivate cannabis is appealing to farmers.