Thomas Farmer: Chief External Affairs and Marketing Officer & Co-Founder
Thomas is a local and federal relations expert. He has over 30 years of government experience, including leading the GA Outdoor Stewardship campaign and serving the Georgia Chapter of Nature Conservancy. Today, his marketing, communications, and government relations expertise sets us up for a reliable future.
What brought you to the hemp industry?
It’s a long, sordid tale – but essentially Clay and I began talking about this business several years ago over a few beers – and over time these conversations developed into an actionable business plan. I brought in Will to serve as a sounding board for our ideas – and eventually we wore him down and he stepped in as our third partner.
What’s your backstory? What did you do before this “green revolution” in GA?
For the last 15 years I was the Senior Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Georgia. In this role I worked on conservation policy issues on the federal, state and, local levels. The capstone of my TNC career came in the fall of 2018 when I successfully led the passage of a state constitutional amendment – the GA Outdoor Stewardship Amendment – which Georgians overwhelmingly supported at the ballot box. The amendment takes an existing portion of the states sales tax on outdoor sporting goods and places it in a fund where it can be used to protect critical outdoor habitats, create parks and trails, and provide outdoor access for all Georgians. So, in a way, I’ve been in the green revolution for a long time.
How’d that prepare you for now?
Everything about hemp is currently wrapped up in public policy. My relationships at the statehouse have helped us navigate a business plan while being very attuned to the policy machinations at the state and federal levels. In fact, there is a bill currently being considered by the GA General Assembly that affects our ability to conduct business in Georgia.
How does your experience make SCA a strong player in the GA hemp market?
Again, I don’t think any hemp company in the Southeast, and maybe the country, has the type of solid government relations experience in-house that is necessary to navigate the policy waters that we are in at the moment. The Secretary of the USDA, Sonny Perdue, is our former governor, and we have the access to have our opinions heard at the highest levels. Government relations experience can often be overlooked as a key strategy component. Second Century Ag has always realized that this fledgling industry will be buffeted by policy decisions, and we felt it important in the onset to engage in those debates to help our company succeed.
How do you see the industry changing the most in the next year or two?
When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enters the fray and decides how and when CBD can be used in food and beverages – the entire industry will change overnight. Then it gets really fun!
If someone had told you 5 years ago that you’d be growing cannabis, what would you have said?
Sounds about right!
What’s your prediction for the future of hemp and cannabis products?
Second Century Ag will be a nationally recognized company for producing high quality CBD and for pioneering the farmer-processor relationship.