Euro MP calls for end to hemp ‘tax’ for farmers

Euro MP and Norfolk farmer Stuart Agnew has urged home officer ministers to boost home-grown hemp production.

While visiting the Halesworth factory, he was told that Whitehall officials insist that farmers must pay £580 for a licence to grow the crop.

Mr Agnew, who is UKIP's member of the European parliament's agriculture committee, wrote to home office minister Theresa May to ask her to scrap an 'unnecessary' tax on hemp growers.

Her home office rule was 'restricting the opportunity for a UK industry to compete with others of a similar nature elsewhere in the EU.'

'Hemp is a minority crop on arable land in the UK that provides an excellent break crop for weed control and yet requires no pesticides whatsoever to be applied during its growing period,' wrote Mr Agnew, who is a former chairman of Norfolk National Farmers' Union and a free-range egg producer.

He said that the home office has insisted that a licence fee must be paid by the grower irrespective of the area grown.

'I hope that you are aware that the varieties of hemp used for food and/or materials production are a very distant cousin of the cannabis suitable for recreational use and hemp holds no attraction whatsoever for cannabis smokers.

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'No other EU country taxes its hemp producers in this way and we risk the ludicrous situation of persecuting our own industry with the consequence of handing our domestic market to foreign countries,' he added.