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New farm equipment law goes into effect

New farm equipment law goes into effect

The law allows Oklahoma teens to obtain a Farm Driving Permit

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A new farm equipment law went into effect in Oklahoma on Nov. 1.

House Bill 1962, which Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law in May, allows teenagers between 14 and 17 years old who live or work on a farm to obtain a Farm Driving Permit.

The permit allows holders to operate any Class D motor vehicle so long as they travel directly to or from home, work or school and obey the legislated restrictions.

The restriction include taking the most direct route and only driving within certain hours.

For context, Class D motor vehicles in Oklahoma are “cars, vans, trucks under 26,001 lbs. (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), recreational vehicles, (and) fire trucks.”

Teens, for example, could operate tractors like the John Deere 7R 350, with its base weight of 24,700 lbs.

And a Ford F-150 pickup truck has a GVWR of about 7,050 pounds.

Other jurisdictions have similar rules in place, which have proved to be successful.

“This law has been in place in Kansas for over 60 years,” Rep. Carl Newton, who sponsored the bill, told KTUL. “I looked at Kansas, we pulled the law that they’ve utilized. I contacted the Department of Public Safety in Kansas, they had no concerns and have had no problems with it.”

Some people in the state, however, are concerned with the law.

In Oklahoma, a teen must be 15 years old to attend driving school.

This law allowing teenagers to drive at 14 is troublesome, said Don Hancock, owner of Safer Driving School.

“They are exempt from taking any Driver’s Education program at all,” he told KTUL. “So, if you’re 14, we can’t help you. And to me, that’s a big concern.”

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The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

Video: The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

The fledgling U.S. hemp industry is decades behind countries like Canada, France and China, but according to impact investor and this week’s podcast guest, Pierre Berard, it could flourish into a $2.2 billion industry by 2030 and create thousands of jobs.

To reach its potential, what the hemp industry needs most right now, Berard said, is capital investment.

Last month, Berard published a report titled “Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity — A Pioneering Venture for Investors and Corporations Driven by Environmental, Social and Financial Concerns” in which he lays out the case for investment.

It’s as if Berard, with this report, is waving a giant flag, trying to attract the eyes of investors, saying, “Look over here. Look at all this opportunity.”

Berard likens the burgeoning American hemp industry to a developing country.

“There is no capital. People don’t want to finance. This is too risky. And I was like, OK, this sounds like something for me,” he said.

As an impact investor who manages funds specializing in agro-processing companies, Berard now has his sights set on the U.S. hemp industry, which he believes has great economic value as well as social and environmental benefits.

He spent many years developing investment in the agriculture infrastructure of developing countries in Latin America and Africa, and said the hemp industry feels similar.

“It is very nascent and it is a very fragmented sector. You have pioneers and trailblazers inventing or reinventing the field after 80 years of prohibition,” he said. “So I feel very familiar with this context.”

On this week’s hemp podcast, Berard talks about the report and the opportunities available to investors in the feed, fiber and food sectors of the hemp industry.

Building an industry around an agricultural commodity takes time, he said. According to the report, “The soybean industry took about 50 years to become firmly established, from the first USDA imports in 1898 to the U.S. being the top worldwide producer in the 1950s.”

Berard has a plan to accelerate the growth of the hemp industry and sees a four-pillar approach to attract investment.

First, he said, the foundation of the industry is the relationship between farmers and processors at the local level.

Second, he said the industry needs what he calls a “federating body” that will represent it, foster markets and innovations, and reduce risk for its members and investors.

The third pillar is “collaboration with corporations that aim to secure or diversify their supply chains with sustainable products and enhance their ESG credentials. This will be key to funding the industry and creating markets,” he said.

The fourth pillar is investment. Lots of it. Over $1.6 billion over seven years. This money will come from government, corporations, individual investors, and philanthropic donors.

The 75-page report goes into detail about the hemp industry, its environmental and social impact, and the opportunities available to investors.

Read the report here: Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity

Also on this episode, we check in with hemp and bison farmer Herb Grove from Brush Mountain Bison in Centre County, PA, where he grew 50 acres of hemp grain. We’ll hear about harvest and dry down and crushing the seed for oil and cake.