What is the Hemp Federation of America?
The Hemp Federation of America (HFA) is a membership organization based in Washington, D.C. It is our mission to advocate on behalf of the entire industry, from planter to processor to manufacturer and beyond. We aim to shape federal policy and regulation in order to foster a growing, sustainable and vibrant market for American-grown industrial hemp for use as food, fuel, fiber and other by-products.
Why do we need to do this?
Hemp as a product for American industrial uses dates back to the early Colonies. But today it is considered a "new crop" after the the 2018 Farm Bill lifted restrictions on its cultivation and processing. Because it lacks the program support of other cash crops, people and businesses involved in industrial hemp experience challenges at every step. At HFA, we are focusing our efforts on establishing a reasonable, regulatory and policy framework that is beneficial to the long-term growth of hemp as a fiber, food source, feedstock for biofuel, and more. Our executive team and staff have the collective experience to stand up and run all aspects of an association: federal advocacy, public affairs, PAC fundraising, compliance work, and more.
Our priority is Washington, D.C.
Our focus is on the decision-makers in Washington, D.C., where we see the need to close a knowledge-and-credibility gap among those who conflate industrial hemp with cannabis, and do not grasp the opportunities that hemp offers to America’s economic and national security. These elected and appointed officials, along with their staff members, are crucial gatekeepers to policy and regulation that matter to the hemp industry. The HFA will monitor broader public sentiment, but our energies and focus are directed to where we can make the most cost-effective difference: inside the Beltway.
The HFA knows that in order to effectively fulfill its mission, we must adhere to core values for the organization and its representatives.
Through advocacy and strategic communications initiatives, HFA will seek to elevate industrial hemp as a cash crop to the American farmer, and an investment in rural America.
HFA will always support American farmers who seek to grow industrial hemp as a domestic, renewable source of food, fiber, fuel and other by-products.
HFA will vigorously advocate for a regulatory and legislative environment to encourage the long-term growth of the American industrial hemp industry and strengthen America’s rural economy.
HFA will communicate the positive story of industrial hemp to news media, policymakers and other select influencers as a means of education and influence on behalf of the entire industry.
HFA will partner with industry leaders and allied organizations in efforts that foster a healthy, sustainable market for industrial hemp to the benefit of the American farmer.
By unifying multiple categories into a single voice, HFA recognizes that it’s strength comes from the collaboration and common interests of the entire hemp industry.
Who is Leading the HFA?
A Board of Directors
A Board of Directors, comprised of leaders from within the industry, set the long-term agenda for the Hemp Federation of America. The strategy and day-to-day management of the association is overseen by a bipartisan executive leadership team deeply experienced in policy, communications, regulatory and political affairs:
Scott Graves spent more than a decade on Capitol Hill in various leadership capacities, most recently as staff director of the House Agriculture Committee. In his time in Congress, Scott worked closely with House leadership and their staff on major legislative initiatives and is widely recognized by the agriculture industry as a strategic and effective voice for agriculture. He played an important role in crafting the 2008 and 2014 farm bills and helped guide the focus of the 114th and 115th Congresses towards the successful completion of the 2018 farm b ill. Graves is currently a Partner at Williams and Jensen, PLLC where he leads the firm’s agriculture and nutrition practice working with a variety of clients and stakeholders encompassing nearly all areas where agriculture and public policy intersect.
Christopher Thorne brings 30 years experience in media, communications and public affairs. He covered farm bills and agriculture as an AP newswriter and correspondent, and served as the chief communications aide to U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and as the chief communications executive for two trade associations, the Beer Institute and Growth Energy. Today he is the managing partner of INDEPENDENT Public Affairs LLC, with a practice focused on agriculture, public health, trade and technology.
Matthew Valesko has spent the past five years in Washington, DC, working for agriculture-related trade associations, most recently with the National Cotton Council (NCC). In his time at NCC, Matt played a critical role in achieving numerous legislative and regulatory victories for the industry and helped establish and build upon critical relationships with Members of Congress and their staffs. Currently, Matt works with Graves serving as one of their firm’s lead liaisons to congressional staff and Administration officials on agriculture issues.
In coordination with the executive team, HFA is governed by a Board of Directors, with at least one seat on the Board elected from each of the existing membership categories:
Any individual or entity whose agricultural operations are primarily comprised of farming activities, including the current or prospective production of industrial hemp
Any current or prospective processor of industrial hemp
Any current or prospective manufacturer of industrial hemp
Any individual or entity currently involved or otherwise interested in retail sale of hemp products
Financial Services & Investment
Any individual or institution pursuing or currently in the practice of providing capital and/or investment in the industrial hemp industry
Any individual or entities who provide professional services such as, but not limited to, consultation, marketing expertise, risk management services, certification, and agronomists.
Any individual interested in the industrial hemp industry
Any non-profit, research institution, and trade association directly involved in the industrial hemp industry.
All categories join as individual members. The membership of each category will nominate and elect their representative to the Board of Directors.
The Grower, Processor, Manufacturer, and Professional Services categories will each have the right to elect up to three board positions. This is based on their fundamental role in the structure and formulation of the industry as the “base” of the industry supply pyramid and primary industry stakeholders. Collectively, the Board will nominate two members to serve as the association’s Chairman and Vice Chairman. The Board will have the ability to amend both the categories and structure of the Board overtime as deemed appropriate. In time, HFA members will also have the ability to establish committees representing Government Relations, Membership, Outreach, Communications and more. Each committee will be chaired by an HFA member.
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