In the 1960s, when I started my career-dreaming, the American Dream was to do well by doing good; to find a way to make a living that made other people’s lives better, too.
I gotta tell ya – it may seem hard to credit today, but that was the vector that brought people – brought me – to journalism.
Our guest today, New Mexico writer-farmer Doug Fine was already engaged in that difficult straddle, surviving economically while spreading the benefits, doing what he calls regenerative farming on a modest landholding in the southern part of the state, when he discovered hemp.
Over the past six years, since the Federal Farm Bill of 2014 opened up paths of legal hemp farming, Doug’s been convinced the chances are now good to make a very good living while doing lots of good for the planet, or as he puts it in his recent book American Hemp Farmer, “Planting hemp is the best way to actively mitigate climate change and restore normal rainfall cycles to our eco-system.”
Who couldn’t support that? Well, apparently some of the people who wrote the U.S. Department of Agriculture rules on aid for economic damage done by the COVID-19 outbreak. Hemp farmers – unless they meet special conditions – aren’t eligible for the grants or loans being made to wheat, corn and soy farmers.
Doug Fine is a solar-powered goat herder, comedic investigative journalist, and pioneer voice in cannabis/hemp and regenerative farming, and author of the new book American Hemp Farmer. He has cultivated hemp in four US states, and his genetics are in five more. He’s an award-winning culture and climate correspondent for NPR, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, among others. His previous books include Hemp Bound, Too High to Fail, Farewell, My Subaru (a Boston Globe bestseller), Not Really an Alaskan Mountain Man, and First Legal Harvest, a monograph that was printed on hemp paper. His print and radio work, United Nations testimony, and TED Talk can be found at dougfine.com, and his social media handle is @organiccowboy.