Compliance with state administrative regulations, which required considerable licensing and testing fees, raised the cost of entry to small farmers, while still-evolving rules inhibited business planning.
On top of this, the cooperative business form was new to many BHC members, and any experience from similar endeavors in the Bitterroot was not directly transferrable to the emerging hemp market. As in any start-up activity, there were growing pains.
With the lessons learned from the 2019 experience, 2020 foresees positive outcomes ahead. The BHC’s leadership is committed to achieving a cooperative business-to-business enterprise with a mission to help increase profitability in members’ hemp-related businesses.
BHC members are business owners, whether they operate as sole-proprietors or other entity forms, who also own a share in the co-op business. They have a role in co-op governance, following the democratic principles at the heart of the co-operative business model.
They also benefit from shared resources and services that can be applied to reduce barriers to entry, help mitigate risks, and provide advantages of scale in the industrial hemp market that might not be availed to individuals. The co-op is establishing a range of services and educational opportunities that are of interest to hemp industry participants and continues to engage with relevant public and private organizations to promote mutually beneficial outcomes.