Dear Editor,

All this talk about corporate tax hikes and the possibility of personal and state income tax in our fine state of Wyoming is starting to ____ me off. Why is the answer always to raise taxes? I know a lot of our legislators voted against raising taxes last session and we appreciate your vote. Believe me, we do.

Our representatives have worked diligently over the past three years to drive diversification efforts through ENDOW. One industry that has benefited is the tech industry. The focus to diversify our state economy into the IT age is a noble idea. Millions of taxpayer dollars have gone toward developing tech centers. This may very well be a boon in the future, after millions of dollars have been spent on the concept of “Build it. They will come.”

Have patience here and allow these programs to mature instead of rushing to pass tax bills that will negatively affect the programs that have been trying to increase corporations coming into Wyoming. Committee members have stated that ENDOW alone will not be sufficient to resurrect the economy. Their solution… raise taxes.

The ENDOW fund has accomplished a lot and is poised to find new economic opportunities. There is a new industry on the horizon that could be a boost in ag production and a shot in the arm to our state economy. Hemp.

Stop reinventing the wheel, put some rubber on the wheels we have. We are one of the largest ag states in the union. Divert some funds to ranchers and farmers to farm and produce a short- season commodity that at current market prices can bring millions of dollars per acre yield. Hemp.

The market for the hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), is predicted to reach $23.7 billion by 2023, according to a recent article in Salon.

Support family farms, and help property owners convert to the production of a high yield, high value crop. Hemp.

The return on investment of hemp is staggeringly high. Preparation and planting of 2 acres can produce several revenue streams that could potentially bring in millions in revenue with field preparation and planting costing on average $12,000/acre, with a harvest cycle of 6 months. Our economy would realize a boom in ag income quickly.

There are many tertiary benefits that could develop small businesses: oil processing, flour milling, health products, the list is lengthy.

This industry utilizes the infrastructure that is in place, i.e., open land and ag producers.

Instead of spending millions luring out-of-state businesses, spend money internally and maybe, just maybe, save a family farm, keep the next generation home. Bring new life into an ailing economy.

According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, (with hemp farming) there has been a small but significant rise in the number of farmers younger than age 35.

Hemp production could begin as soon as spring 2020. Let’s act now to begin a new era, bring our values into the future, secure our way of life out here in the wild, wild west and take our ag and our state into the 21st century.

Laura DeMatteis

Buffalo

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