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Hemp refiner expected to provide new income for 200 farmers 0

By Joyce Cassin, Northumberland Today

After nearly 10 years of research and development in industrial hemp, Stonehedge Bio- Resources Inc. of Sterling is ready to lead the way in commercializing hemp in North America.

Building on a business case developed through the Eastern Lake Ontario Regional Innovation Network (ELORIN), Stonehedge is now set to establish a bioprocessing facility in Eastern Ontario to serve North American markets. Some of the products and co-products are aimed at the automotive, energy, agriculture, construction material, and pulp and paper markets. This fibre separation facility (decortication plant) is expected to provide new farm income for about 200 farmers, putting more than 12,000 acres into cultivation, said John Baker, president and founder of Stonehedge.

They secured $2 million in funding from Great Britain and met with the British Consulate on Wednesday, Northumberland County chief administrative officer Bill Pyatt told County council Wednesday afternoon.

"Hopefully they'll be able to obtain provincial and federal dollars as well," Mr. Pyatt said. "This industry will supply all of North America."

Starting this spring, Stonehedge expects to build a new bio-refining facility in Eastern Ontario that will employ up to 27 people by 2011. The company expects to produce more than $17 million per year in renewable hemp fibre, wood-like chips, and pellets, as well as matting and seed products.

"Ontario is proud to support innovative companies that are turning good ideas into good jobs," Research and Innovation Minister John Wilkinson said. "Today's investment is a clear sign that our entrepreneurs and researchers are on the right track to developing and marketing globally competitive green technologies that will create good jobs for Ontario families.

"Eastern Ontario has carved out a new economic sector that will support our communities in the 21st century," Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi said. "From research to high-technology bioprocessing to farming, we're very excited at the possibilities this project has to offer."


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