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Police warn farmers about targeted thefts

Police warn farmers about targeted thefts

Thieves have stolen equipment and other items from farms

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Police are warning producers that thieves are targeting farms for their next scores.

“Farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses are being hit with thefts of heavy equipment, aluminum pipe, commodities, cattle and expensive farm chemicals,” the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office says on its website.

This warning came after authorities alerted the public about its ongoing search for 96 beehives taken from a field near Interstate 5 and W. Panoche Road.

The hives went missing between Jan. 28 and 29 and are valued around $34,000.

“These particular hive(s) are multi-colored and are all branded with the letters ‘MEB,’ so they should be easy to recognize,” the sheriff’s office said.

The bees came from Andy Strehlow, a beekeeper from South Dakota.

He’s offering a $100,000 reward for the return of the stolen hives, Fox 26 reported.

In South Carolina, farmers in two counties are out thousands of dollars because of criminal activity.

Thieves have been stealing copper wire from pivot pumps, police in Sumter and Clarendon counties say.

The thefts caused between $5,000 and $10,000 to each pivot, police say.

“Dishonest people are always looking for a way to steal from good, hard-working people. Farmers are part of the fabric of our culture and some of the hardest working people in America. When a neighbor suffers, we all suffer, so I hope people will step-up and report these thieves,” said Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis, Fox 57 reported.

Farmers can take multiple steps to protect their properties from theft.

These include branding livestock, putting an Owner Applied Number and Operation I.D. on heavy equipment, and marking the insides of chemical containers.

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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.



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