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Moe uses fight against carbon tax to define first year as Saskatchewan premier

REGINA — Scott Moe is almost one year into his tenure as Saskatchewan premier and he has used his opposition against a federal carbon tax as a major front in the early battle to define his leadership.
 
Moe points to the pending tax as one of the biggest economic headwinds facing his province. Since replacing Brad Wall as premier at the end of January, he has asked the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to rule on whether the federal government's plan to impose one on the province is constitutional.
 
The province argues its own climate change plan, which doesn't include a carbon tax, is enough to reduce emissions.
 
"We need to ensure that we are able to stand up against these policies and ensure that we can continue to grow our economy so that we can have the opportunity to invest in the services that people expect," Moe said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press.
 
Moe has aligned himself with fellow anti-carbon-tax crusader, Ontario Premier Doug Ford. The two have visited each other twice and held a joint news conference at a premiers meeting in New Brunswick this summer.
 
Moe said Ford was elected to fight the carbon tax and Moe admires Ford's ability to do what he says he will.  
 
Moe is the first to admit he's brought a different style to the job than Wall. Wall had was consistently ranked as one of the country’s most popular and well-known premiers and his gift for delivering a good sound bite made him popular on the national stage.
 
Moe said replicating that has never been his goal.
 
"I've just tried to be myself and I think that's important if there's going to be any success at all," he said.
 
Saskatchewan's Opposition NDP also has a relatively untested leader as well.
 
Ryan Meili, named to the party's top job in March, has raised mental health, addictions and Indigenous issues over the last year.
 
He doesn't think the province should go ahead with the carbon tax court case.
 
"The thing that concerns me is they (government) have no backup plan," he said in a year-end interview. "They got this court case which nearly every expert, it's pretty clear, (says) is highly unlikely to be successful. And even if it is, it's months and maybe even years away."
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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.