Tag Archives: Hemp

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Agriculture is accepting applications from farmers who want to be part of the state’s industrial hemp research program, which state lawmakers created last April.

One of the farmers eager to get on board is PJ Sneed, who is building infrastructure, clearing land and establishing a cover crop on his land in western Reno County.

“I’m very excited; for me, it’s been a long time coming,” Sneed said. “It has for a lot of people, especially the grassroots movement. We’ve all been waiting for this moment.”

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signed legislation last April to allow industrial hemp production only for research purposes, with a goal of encouraging the resurgence of hemp as a production crop and to promote economic development. The 2018 federal farm bill also legalized hemp farming.

The agriculture department has spent the last year gathering public input and establishing regulations for the program. Applications are due to the department by March 1.

Before the federal farm bill was approved, Kansas could only establish a research program for hemp growing but the state is now open to establishing commercial growing if the legislature approves, The Hutchinson News reported .

“So nothing is changing yet. The law that passed last spring and the regulations that go with it are what’s on the books,” agriculture department spokeswoman Heather Lansdowne said.

Lansdowne said the earliest the state could have additional laws to allow industrial hemp would likely be 2020.

Sneed agreed and predicted a large increase in hemp growers in the new future.

“I think in year two you’ll see a huge boom after people see what it is and how it’s grown,” he said. “In 2020 I think you’ll start to see more banks open up for commercial loans and things like that.”

The application process will include background checks and more.

The Hemp Biz Conference and the Planted Association of Kansas, of which Sneed is a member, will host a symposium on hemp growing in Hutchinson on Feb. 23. He said it’s designed to help farmers network and find markets but the focus this year will be on rules and regulations and the application process.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Two months after President Donald Trump signed a law to legalize hemp, Nebraska lawmakers and state agency officials are working together to help farmers get a piece of the market.

Lawmakers heard public input Tuesday on a bill that would allow farmers to grow and harvest hemp in Nebraska. Many have eyed it as a way to diversify their crops, but the state hasn’t developed a way to license and regulate it.

Sen. Justin Wayne, of Omaha, tells the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee he introduced it because he believes farmers and businesses are missing the opportunity.

On his monthly radio call-in show, Gov. Pete Ricketts says his administration is working with Wayne. Ricketts has previously said his hands were tied because hemp had been classified as an illegal and dangerous drug.

Freed from the list of federally banned substances, hemp is about to have another growth spurt in Kentucky.

 The state’s agriculture commissioner said Tuesday that his department has approved 1,035 applications to produce up to 42,086 acres (17,000 hectares) of industrial hemp in 2019. Last year, 210 licensed growers planted more than 6,700 acres (2,700 hectares) when the low-THC version of the cannabis plant was operating under a limited reprieve.

 The new surge offers more proof that Kentucky is poised to become a national leader in hemp production, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said.

 “The numbers tell you what you need to know about the excitement about hemp in Kentucky,” he said. “The growth in the number of approved acres … shows that Kentucky is rapidly becoming the epicenter of the hemp industry in the United States.”

 Hemp became a legitimate agricultural crop late last year when a provision in the federal farm bill removed the plant from the list of federally controlled substances. For decades, the leafy plant was banned due to its family ties to marijuana. But hemp, unlike its cousin, has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

 Hemp gained mainstream support in Kentucky several years ago and the state’s most prominent political leader — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — led the legalization push in Congress last year. Legalization means hemp farmers will be able to buy crop insurance, apply for loans and grants and write off their business expenses on their taxes like any other farmer.

 States have been given primary regulatory oversight of hemp. In Kentucky, the state Department of Agriculture said Tuesday it has approved 40 new applications from businesses wanting to process hemp. That’s on top of the 69 existing processors who are renewing their licenses for 2019, it said.

 Growers, however, haven’t always reached the maximum allowable acres of hemp they were licensed to plant.

 Last year, the 210 growers were licensed to plant up to 16,100 acres (6,515 hectares) of hemp, but ended up planting more than 6,700 acres (2,700 hectares).

 Still, the crop has gained a strong foothold since its comeback began in 2014 when a mere 32 acres (13 hectares) of hemp were planted.

 Hemp’s comeback started with the 2014 federal farm bill. McConnell helped push for a provision that allowed states to pursue hemp research and development. That allowed the crop to be grown on an experimental basis.

 The versatile crop was historically used for rope but has many other uses, including clothing and mulch from the fiber; hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds; and soap and lotions. Other uses include building materials, animal bedding and biofuels. Hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD oil, as a health product has become an increasingly large market.

 To grow or process hemp in Kentucky, farmers and businesses must be licensed by the state agriculture department. License holders must pass background checks and consent to inspections by law enforcement or state agriculture officials of any premises where hemp is grown, handled, stored or processed.

 

Hemp was also a hot topic at the 100th Annual American Farm Bureau Convention. Kentucky Congressman James Comer, who served as Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner prior to his election to Congress, presented at a hemp break out session. Comer followed the break out session with a press conference. One of the first questions asked of him was the possibility of over supplying the young hemp market.

Comer next sang the praises of Kentucky research into hemp.

While some are concerned about a market for hemp in the U.S. Comer is confident there is economic viability for a hemp crop. Comer also believes it could help curb issues rural America is facing.